Friday, November 29, 2013

Some thoughts on the Psalms

I've been slowly meandering my way through the book of Psalms recently.  It's a nice book to savor as one goes through it.  Kind of like cake.  Mmmmm.... cake.

But I digress.

This isn't the first time I've read through Psalms, won't be the last, but there is one thing that is new (to me any way) that stuck out at me at the beginning of my reading and now I'm seeing a pattern in almost every Psalm.  The importance of the name of God.

In Psalm 30:4, David refers to God's name as a memorial, a testament of all He has ever done (the foot note in my Logos App Bible notes God's statement of His name in Exodus 3:14, where He tells Moses His name).  In other words, God, when He said I Am, was declaring all the things He was (and is, and will be as God is not bound by the silly fourth dimension we call "time").  God was not just saying "Hi, my name is God, nice to meet you".  He was saying "Hi.  I Am.  I Am creator, savior, judge, ruler, peace, provider, protector.... etc.  I Am the one who will rescue you."  His name isn't just a word.  It is a descriptor; it tells us who He is.  It's kind of like the story of God.  It is more powerful than we can imagine.  I mean, God spoke.  And it was.  All of creation is God's Word come to life; and that act of creating is just part of His name.  

Which is kind of interesting to read through the Bible with that thought in mind and take note of the places where God's name is mentioned.  For example, Revelation 19:12 states that when Jesus returns, He will have a name that only He knows.  It makes me wonder what story that name might tell, what power that name holds that it isn't even spoken.  Could I even comprehend it?  Probably not.  I don't comprehend much...  Which got me wondering about another place in Revelation (2:17) where we are told that we will be given a new name, written on a stone, that only we will understand; probably because we are the only ones who fully understand our own story.

Today, I read Psalm 91 (I'm not making fast progress, but I like to mull over this book.  It's really worth reading each Psalm a few times over...).  Psalm 91 is one of my favorites; one that I quote when I'm frustrated, alone, bored, or just grumpy.  But today, I noticed that verse 14 (quoting God) states: "because he holds fast to me love, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name."  Think about what it means to know God's name.  To know His name is part of knowing Him, as much of Him as any of us can know.  Do I honestly, truly know God's name?  I can say that God is peace, but do I know His peace?  I can say God is good, but do I know His good?  Every day is a new venture into knowing God more and part of that means that His name becomes more clear to me the more I learn about Him.  1 Corinthians 13:12 states "for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (I'd like to take this moment to note that the original Greek uses "in a mirror through a riddle" instead of through a mirror dimly; I like the original imagery better... more poetic).  Here, we have just an echo, a faint reflection of what really is. Probably the best, clearest part of that reflection is God's name.

We can still hear it, you know, God's word at creation, part of His name.  Every sun rise.  Every breath of wind.  Every laugh.  Every flower.  It's all a whisper.  An echo of the Word from so long ago, breathing His name.

Gweli i chi

Monday, March 04, 2013

Random Thoughts On Biblical Greek

So.... sorry I suck at blogging. But, I just read this tonight and had to share.  I'm too excited about this (yes, I'm a nerd) and had to write it down/share.  Since it's too long for a text or status post, I'm blogging about it.

So I’ve been reading through my Greek/English New Testament, documenting the usages of the word ‘love’, as Greek has multiple words for love, each having a different meaning.  I’ve found some interesting things, but my favorite discovery happened tonight during my study.  I’m currently in the book of John and just read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (if you’re not familiar with it, read John 11).  John 11:5 notes that Jesus loved Lazarus (and his sisters) using the Greek hjgapa (egapa) a variant of the word agaph (agape) meaning unconditional love; the love mentioned in John 3:16.  Later, in John 11:36, the people morning with Mary and Martha over Lazarus’ death note that Jesus wept and said 'look how much he [Jesus] loved him [Lazarus]'.  But here is where it gets interesting.  The word for love used by the people to describe Jesus’ feelings for Lazarus is ejfilei (ephilei) from the word fila (phila) used to describe familial love (e.g. the love of a brother and/or sister, or a child has for a mother and/or father) interestingly, it is also the root of the words used to describe self-love and love of money.

Maybe I’m a nerd, but here is what got me excited about this word choice difference in the text.   The narrator, John, writes about Jesus’ love for Lazarus using  hjgapa, indicating the unconditional love of God for His people; a love that as one of the disciples, he witnessed every day.  However, when writing about how people perceived Jesus’ love, he used ejfilei, indicating that the people attributed Jesus’ tears to brotherly love; the same love Mary and Martha had for Lazarus. 

In other words, how often do we misinterpret God’s love for us?  How often do I perceive God’s love as something less than perfect, unconditional love?  Jesus’ death (and resurrection; can’t forget that part!) was the ultimate example of agaph love; a love that I should daily strive to emulate (and daily fail miserably at doing so).  But how often do I truly recognize God’s love for what it is?  As a disciple of Jesus, I should always, like John, see God’s love as agaph.

Gweli i chi

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Short rant about insurance

Let me just begin this post by saying that I think Universal Healthcare is a good idea.  I grew  up with no insurance and know the hardships it places on families.  I don’t agree with Obamacare for many reasons, number one of which is that it feels like it’s trying to reinvent the wheel – and doing a really bad job of it.  However, this is not about whether or not Obamacare is good or bad.  It’s about the media frenzy over mandatory birth control.

Here’s the deal.  I’ve taken birth control for years.  I have to.  See, I have this thing called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  Basically, my brain produces too much of one hormone, and not enough of another one leading to many health issues (e.g. a greater risk of  ovarian cancer, heart disease, etc.).  One of which is that I don’t ovulate on a regular schedule.  Birth control is a cheap, safe way to keep my hormones regulated, keeping me regulated.   The problem, then, is getting pregnant.

And this is my issue with the whole argument.  Let’s leave morals and ethics aside.  They’ve been argued to death and we’re still where we were forty years ago when Roe v. Wade made headlines.  I found out a few things in 2008 when I first received my diagnosis.  The number one thing I discovered is, while it will pay for abortions and birth control, my insurance will not pay for infertility treatments or drugs.  That’s my problem with the whole thing.  

It’s not a choice if only some women get to choose.  What about women like me?  What about all the infertility cases who long, so desperately, for a baby but are denied financial assistance by an insurance company willing to terminate a pregnancy but not create one? 

It isn’t fair.  It’s been almost four years since I found all this out and I’m still angry about the whole thing.  Very, very angry.

I was fortunate enough that it only took me two months on a fertility drug known as Clomid, to get pregnant.  But in those two months, we spent a lot of our personal money to make this happen.  I don’t want to think about the amount of money women like my mother, who was considered an infertility case for 10 years and was on Clomid for four years, spend trying to have a baby.

So I guess my point here is that if you’re going to pay for one, you have to pay for the other.  If birth control is going to be mandatory, so should infertility treatments.  It’s only fair.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Update on Evan

What to write about?  There's so much... I'll (hopefully) be posting more, as I've got a lot on my mind that needs to make it out, but I think for now I'll just stick with some updates on Evan.

Evan had a bit of struggle with his weight around two to four months of age.  He was gaining weight, but losing percentages on the growth chart, which apparently meant that he was not getting enough nutrition to grow.  Before you freak out, yes, I was feeding him... constantly.  Because of his cleft, Evan burns more calories when he eats than the average baby; it just takes more effort for him.  To counteract this, I had to add more calories to his milk. Here's the rub; Evan is lactose intolerant and apparently doesn't do well with soy either.  I was adding a teaspoon of formula to each 2.5 oz of breast milk that he ate; but he wouldn't eat it.  We went through four different types of formula, finally finding one that he could tolerate with minimal screaming.  Now that he's eating solids, he's gained quite a bit and at five months is filling out his six month clothes.  

Evan's first surgery is scheduled for June 1st, two weeks after we move to our new house.  I'm not looking forward to this.  I know it sounds weird, but his whole face is going to change in a matter of hours.  Yes, it's for the best, but it will take some getting used to.  Also, he won't be able to stick things in his mouth for a while, and that's his favorite activity right now (and I think he's teething...).  So the aftermath of the surgery could be... interesting.  This first surgery will be to repair his lip and reshape his left nostril so he can breath out of it.  He will most likely have ear tubes put in at this time as well.  He has yet to pass a hearing screen because of the fluid behind his ear drums.  We are hoping that the ear tubes will help this to drain and allow us to more accurately test his hearing.

I am constantly amazed that underground community of cleft families.  I would have never known about these amazing people if it hadn't been for Evan.  Almost everywhere I go, someone stops me and says "my baby had a cleft" or "my grandchild had a cleft" and offers encouragement and advice.  Most people in the area have gone to the same clinic we are going to, which has been a great comfort as they have all been very positive about their experiences with the doctors there.  Being the parent of a cleft baby is like secret club. No one knows about it until you're in it.  But they are amazingly supportive, wonderful people.  I'm blessed to get to know them and learn from their experiences! 

As for Evan himself, he is such a happy little guy!  He has discovered his toes and screaming.  He will spend a good chunk of his time sitting on the floor, grabbing his toes, and screaming at them.  He has also discovered his sister's curls and enjoys getting a good hold on them when she tries to hug him.

Well that's all the time I have for now!

Gweli i chi!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A short policical rant

This isn’t about my approbation or condemnation of our current president, or my political views at all; who I vote for is no one’s business.  That being said, I just saw a picture of our president with a few comments… and some of the comments kind of made me mad.  Most political things do.  First of all, I don’t care what your political beliefs are.  The reason the voting booths are private is because your vote is between you and God.  Don’t drag me into it.   Besides, I'm a grown, educated woman; I can review the facts and make my own political choices, thank you very much. Secondly, whether you vote for the current leaders of our country or not, they still deserve your respect; they are doing a difficult job to the best of their abilities and until you’ve been there and done that, shut up.  

Why I’m upset here is that someone stated by this photo that we should pray for the president because it was “so sad” that the president and first lady had their left hands on their chests while facing the flag.  First, the picture was probably photo shopped and secondly, really?  That’s what got you sad?  Aren’t there bigger issues to pray for and greater things to be sad about?

My parents raised my brother and me to treat every Saturday evening as a family devotional time.  We’d sit on the floor, eat pizza, read from the Bible, talk about our day, and then pray.  We’d pray for four things: our family, our church (both our local church and the global church), our nation, and our world.  When we’d pray for our nation, we’d always pray for our leaders, whether we liked them and agreed with their policies or not.  The point my parents hammered into me every Saturday evening is simple: Romans 13 is pretty clear that we should respect the governing authorities.  And just as a point of reference, Paul wrote the book of Romans around 58 AD, during the reign of Nero and while being persecuted by the Jewish leaders for his beliefs.  Yes, we have the right to disagree with our leaders' decisions, no one is perfect and no one makes the best choice for every decision, but we have the responsibility to honor them, and respect them: "pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed" (Romans 13:7, ESV)

So go ahead, pray for the nation, pray for our leaders, pray for the upcoming election.  But when you pray for the current president, please don’t pray for trivialities.  Instead, pray for wisdom in his decisions, pray for his family, pray for unity in congress to make decisions that are best for all the people of our county.  In short, pray for our nation, not your political preferences.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Someday, I'll remember things like when I have a doctor's appointment, what day of the week it is, or when an assignment is due.  Someday.  But right now, life is chaos, and I couldn't really say for certain if I brushed my teeth this morning (I'm pretty sure I did...).  I hate being so disorganized.  I hate not being able to find my phone in the mess of burp cloths, baby toys, and toddler toys that is now my sorry excuse for a living room (seriously, good luck finding my couch... I think it's still there under a pile of baby blankets and clean clothes waiting to be put away, but it may have run off, being somewhat offended by a lack of attention.  I can't say for certain).  And as for finding anything in my kitchen, well, it's either in the dishwasher waiting to be cleaned or in the dish rack waiting to dry and be put away.  Or in the slowly cooling water in  my sink waiting for me to be able to put the baby down and get the toddler entertained for five minutes so I can wash them, and add them to ever growing stack of dishes waiting to dry and be put away.

But despite all that, I wouldn't trade my two babies for anything.  I'd rather live in chaos for these few years than have the cleanest house and most organized ever (particularly since I wasn't all that organized to begin with, but at least everything was put away).  I hate forgetting, I hate feeling like I'm just struggling to keep up with cleaning my house, not to mention the rest of my life, but I know it's (probably) only temporary.  Someday, I'll have a clean house again, and I'll be able to remember why I had to go to the grocery store without making the same trip four times in a week just to pick up milk. And when that happens, I'll look back on these days and sigh and say "I miss that time!"

Saturday, December 31, 2011

About Our Newest Family Member

Our son, Evan, was born with a unilateral cleft through his lip and gum on the left side of his face and a bilateral cleft through his hard and soft palates.  Basically this means he has one cleft through his lip/gum, and both sides of his palate are cleft.  For those not familiar with cleft lip/palate, I’m posting this blog to answer a few (basic) questions.  At the end there will be a short list of things we are thankful for in this situation and things for which we’d really like your prayers.

The cause of cleft lip/palate is unknown: it could be due to environmental influences (e.g. a lack of vitamin B12 during pregnancy) or due to genetics.  In our case, both Mark and I have a family history of cleft lip/palate, so Evan’s cleft is most likely genetic.  A cleft occurs during the formation of the face: basically, the human face forms from the outside in, and a cleft is just a place where things didn’t meet when everything closed up.  Since the face is formed during weeks 6 and 7 of gestation, a cleft will happen at this early point.  Cleft lip/palate is pretty easily repaired and will not cause any major long term issues.  The main concern with cleft babies is early in their development: most do not eat well (they cannot get adequate suction to nurse or to drink from a regular bottle and special bottles are necessary to feed, and sometimes even that takes a while), a cleft palate will interfere with early speech development (which can be fixed with speech therapy), and cleft babies are more prone to ear infections/fluid behind their ears, so many have ear tubes at a young age.  Since a cleft is a midline issue, there is concern for other, internal organs (e.g. the heart, kidneys, etc.).  A cleft lip can be a sign that internal organs are not completely formed (this happens in about 30% of babies with cleft lip/palate).  For more information on cleft lip/palate, you can check out

We are so thankful for Evan in general, but we are especially thankful that his internal organs seem to be OK.  We’ve been to a pediatric cardiologist twice to check on his heart and its growth; everything is working well and normal.  He has had x-rays of his lungs and an ultrasound of his kidneys and they all are functioning very well and normally (the ultrasound technician said his kidneys were “beautiful”).  Despite his cleft palate, Evan is eating like a champ and gaining weight and growing at a good, normal rate.  We are also thankful for the little “helps” God has put in our lives:
  •  Every nurse we had at the hospital when Evan was born, and even at the Cardiologist’s office, had worked with cleft babies in neonatal units before and were able to give us advice and help when we needed it most.
  • The University of Iowa hospitals are only 45 minutes away from us and have a nationally recognized cleft team; Evan has already met with them and we have a tentative plan of action for him.
  • The main nurse we are working with at U of I has a daughter who was born with a bilateral cleft in her lip/palate, so she not only knows the medical side but can empathize and advise from the parental side too.
  • On Christmas Eve, we ran into a family at our church whose son was born with a cleft; they don’t normally go to our church as they live out of town, but were there to meet with some family.  They were able to give us advice, comfort, and contact information in case we had any questions.
We would appreciate your prayers in the following areas:
  • Feeding: because of the cleft, Evan is not able to nurse. I’ve been pumping breast milk and bottle feeding him (its time consuming, but well worth the benefits).  He is gaining weight (yay!), and eating well.  The two issues here are my ability to pump consistently with two children to care for, and that Evan is getting sores inside his mouth on either side of his cleft from the bottles, making eating a painful necessity; he eats, but he doesn’t like it.  The sores seem to be getting less painful for him, so it looks like this issue will fix itself soon. 
  • Hearing: he has not completely passed a hearing test yet.  At the hospital, just after he was born, his left ear passed, but his right ear was too clogged with gunk to test.  When we went back for a second hearing screen, neither ear passed.  They believe that this is because he has fluid buildup behind his ear-drums (not uncommon in babies with clefts) and he may need ear tubes to avoid hearing loss.  We are unable to be certain that he can hear out of his right ear.  We go back for more hearing tests in a few weeks, so hopefully then we will be able get conclusive results about his hearing. 
  • Surgeries: we do not have a specific date for any surgery at this point but here is the basic outline of what will happen when: 
    •  Lip/nose repair around 6 months of age (approximately the end of May).  If he needs ear tubes, this will be the time when they put them in.  the timing here depends upon two things: Evan’s growth and how well the taping goes (taping is a process that involves putting a special tape across the face that will help pull the cleft together more, making surgery easier on both baby and surgeon).
    • Palate repair around 12 to 14 months of age (again, dependent upon his growth).
    • Bone graft for his gum when his adult teeth start coming in, sometime between five and nine years old.
    • “Touch-up” surgery when he is in his late teens to make sure scar tissue isn’t interfering with his facial muscle development.
  • Funding: while we have decent insurance, we aren't sure how much the surgeries will cost us out of pocket.  On a teacher's and freelancer's salaries, we're hoping we can save enough to afford these surgeries.  At this point, we are just trying to save up what we can in order to be able to pay for two major surgeries in one year.
All that said, Evan is such a great little guy and a joy to have in our family.  We greatly appreciate your prayers for him!