Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I have not accomplished all the goals I set to improve the balance in my life.  What I have come to understand, though, is that incremental change is still change, and it will build.  So I'm more faithful in using my prayer space and writing in my journal.  I'm keeping the house clean, which enables me to host the day camp staff for supper without too much extra work. I'm celebrating that progress

The next incremental changes will include diet and exercise.  I am moving forward.  I'm also dampening my parents' voices.  My mom was a perfectionist, and I'm working on silencing my inner perfectionist.  My dad was a gourmet, and stressed out over entertaining.  I'm resisting the temptation to over do Thursday evening's meal.  I don't need to make the pasta sauce, I can use the stuff in the jar.  I can keep it relatively simple.  These are young adults who've been living on camp food all summer.  They will be happy with a simple meal. 

Daughter is very excited that she gets to see them on Thursday.  She was quizzing me about the menu this morning.  I think she was satisfied with my plans.  I assured her I had everything under control.  She almost believed me.....

Monday, July 30, 2012


We are hosting a day camp this week, and we have 5 young adults who are here to work with the kids.  My responsibilities are limited.  Today I greeted the children and their parents as they arrived.  I also reheated leftovers from yesterday's fellowship meal to feed the staff.  We'd had a taco bar yesterday to welcome them, and they loved it then and again today.  They are so grateful, and it is such a minor thing.

Daughter wanted to come help, but she doesn't have the patience to work with the kids all day, and I don't have the time to transport her when she wears out.  She was so excited yesterday to see the staff, because some of them were on staff last summer when she went to the special needs camp.  She told me she wanted to hang out with the staff.  I explained they would be busy all day and wouldn't have time to hang out with her. 

I decided to solve the problem by inviting the staff to supper Thursday night.  They are running 2 camps this week, so there are 9 staff members in the area.  I will serve them all supper.  I've decided that this week my job is to serve.  I'm always serving, but this week the service will take different forms, and that's fine.  It should be interesting to see what I figure out for supper, but I'll make it work.   

Daughter is still frustrated that I'm busy with something she's not involved with, but she'll survive.  The day camp seems to be off to a good start, and I'm grateful.  Most of the children attending are from the community, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to minister to families in the community in this way. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back in Worship

This morning I put on hose and makeup for the first time in 5 weeks.  It was the only thing I didn't like about the day.  It was really good to be back and I had lots of people telling me how much they'd missed me.  I enjoyed hearing that.  We had the young adults who are counselors for the day camp we're hosting this week in worship.  We also had 3 visitors.  They were people who had visited while I was on vacation, and I wrote them notes last week.  I wrote 5 notes, and 2 of those resulted in return visits and thank yous today. 

Treasurer was asking me some questions about church history last week, so I loaned him a book.  He's read it and loved it.  He said it answered lots of his questions, and he wants to discuss it with me.  I warned him he may know more about church history than I do now, but I would be glad to have a conversation about it.

Daughter spent the night here, and I told her this morning I was going to have to stay after worship and the fellowship meal for a meeting about day camp.  She wasn't thrilled.  "Can I find someone else to take me home?"  I told her she could, and she did. 

She has matured so much.  I thanked the woman who has been transporting her, and she told me she was thrilled that Daughter is comfortable calling her to ask.  Administrative Assistant said, "She's developing her own identity at the church, separate from you."  That's good. 

I came home and mowed the lawn, and now I'm watching the Olympics.  I'm also breaking my new rule, as I have my computer out here in the family room.  My goal now is to keep the computer in the guest room/home office when I'm here at home.  I'm working on more balance in my life, and I feel like I'm making progress. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Perspective 3

I've written about Daughter's challenges with perspective, but I realized this morning that I have challenges in that area, as well.  As I reflect on my first week back, I realized I could focus on the fact that I didn't get my sermon completed by Thursday afternoon, as I had hoped, or I could focus on the things I did accomplish:
  • A good board meeting
  • A pastoral call that enabled me to minister to and spend time with 4 different members
  • A number of phone calls with people dealing with health issues
  • Personal notes to everyone having a birthday in August
  • Personal notes to all the visitors while I was gone for whom we could find addresses
  • Multiple discussions and emails regarding day camp next week
  • Wednesday prayer service
  • Multiple newsletter articles
  • Planned music for next Sunday
  • Addressed issues regarding shared worship in the park in a couple of weeks
  • Multiple discussions regarding the delays in the installation of the new AC for the sanctuary
  • Consulted on decisions regarding how to pay for several different unexpected expenses
  • Several conversations a day with people who stopped by to chat
  • Work on fall worship plans
  • Several hours struggling with the sermon or this Sunday.  It's not done, but I think I know where it's going and it shouldn't take much time to finalize.  Of course, that's what I thought when I developed a rough outline a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately the headlines and the Holy Spirit sent me in a different direction.
All in all, Administrative Assistant was right.  It was a busy, productive week.  Next week we will be hosting a day camp 9 to 5 each day.  Supposedly I will only be involved Monday morning and Friday.  We'll see how that works out.  Perhaps the best part of this week was the opportunity to reconnect with so many people.  Next week I'll have the opportunity to connect with neighborhood parents as they bring their children to day camp.  I'm looking forward to that, though it means it will be another busy week and I will probably be struggling once again to get the sermon done during the week.  I still remember the wise old pastor who said to the frustrated young pastor, "The interruptions are your ministry."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can't? Won't?

Daughter had piano lessons as a child.  Years of them.  I finally tired of the battle involved with trying to get her to practice, and we stopped them.  She's doing special music in a couple of weeks, and wanted to sing and play Morning Has Broken.  She told me she couldn't figure it out, so she brought home her music book today.  I was helping her name notes.  She could handle the treble clef pretty well, but was stuck on the bass clef.  So she named the notes in one measure.  In the next measure there were 3 notes-- 2 were the same as the previous measure, 1 had changed.  She couldn't figure out the notes she had just named in the previous measure.  I was exceedingly patient, and eventually she figured it out.  I find myself asking at times like that, though, if it is a matter that she can't figure them out, or won't.  She managed to play all the notes through once, but doesn't want to take the time to work on it and get it flowing smoothly.  At  this point I'm thinking she won't be doing special music any time soon. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are You Sure?

Administrative Assistant assures me we're getting lots of things done this week.  I hope she's right, because I'm sure not making much progress on the list I made.  Of course, many of the things we're getting done weren't on the list-- like figuring out who is going to lock up after day camp next week or what to do about the cleaning crew that comes on Friday.  The long conversation with the mother of a young man who is fighting (and probably losing) a battle with cancer.  The conversation about with the grandfather who worries that his grandson isn't getting the help he needs with his special needs.  Figuring out how to make sure we have enough meal for a fellowship meal this Sunday after the sign-up sheet and announcements about it were forgotten.  Working on covering the music on Sunday when we won't have a musician.  Hearing the excuses as to why the air conditioning installation still isn't complete 2 weeks after the promised date.  As she was leaving for the day (late) I asked, "Are you sure we're getting things done?"  Administrative Assistant thinks all those things count.  She's right, they do.  Unfortunately, so do the things on my to do list, which seems to be getting longer instead of shorter....  It's good to be back, even when the to do list is growing.                          

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I woke up a little after 3:00 this morning, and at 4:00 I gave up on the idea of going back to sleep and got into the shower.  I was at the church a little before 7:00, and began writing the newsletter articles that came out of last night's board meeting.  I have an awesome board.  A service group is building apartments for senior citizens next to the church.  They have asked me to do a prayer at the ground breaking.  I told the board I had offered the church for a reception following the ceremony, and they asked when it would be.  When I told them, they said, "Let's do a luncheon."  People immediately volunteered to coordinate it. 

Anyway, I was at the church early, getting started on the tasks of the day.  Today Administrative Assistant was in for the first time since my vacation, and of course the stream of people stopping by to check in continued.  There are a number of things happening, and there are also a number of sick  people needing attention.  Daughter called several times.  The second time she "just wanted to talk."  I was trying to finish some things with Administrative Assistant so I could go pick up a member to call on a woman who is in rehab after a serious fall with multiple broken bones.  I told her I was busy.

She proceeded to send Sister a text telling her that since I'd gone back to work I didn't care about her anymore and didn't have time to talk to her.  Sister handled it well, telling her it was natural she'd miss me more after the extra time with me while I was on vacation.  She also reminded her I'm always busy when I first start back.  She then forwarded copies of all the texts to me.  I finished the visit (on the other side of town) and dropped off the woman a little after 5:00.  I then called Daughter.  She was not very pleasant.  I acted as though nothing was wrong.  I got home, and after a quick supper headed out to mow the lawn.  I sent Daughter a text like I always do, telling her I'd be mowing and wouldn't hear the phone, and would let her know when I was done. 

She called almost immediately.  "It's your lawn, why should I care if you're mowing it?"  I reminded her I'd promised to text her when I was mowing so she wouldn't worry if I didn't answer the phone.  She wasn't very pleasant.  I again ignored the attitude.  An hour later I texted her, "Done."  She called and apologized.  I reminded her that I don't like being this busy either.  She has an appointment with Psychiatrist in the morning, and I reminded her (several times today) that I will see her there. 

The drama was relatively minor and relatively short lived, so that's progress.  It still gets frustrating, though, when she gets surly and rebels against the limits I set on my availability through the day.  She is improving, so I'll celebrate that. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Should Know Better

I don't know what I was thinking when I listed out my goals for the day, which were all solitary activities like reading commentaries and preparing for a meeting.  Monday is supposed to be my day for such things, since the office is officially closed.  I am grateful for the reading and planning I have been able to do so far today, and I'm also grateful for the number of people who have stopped by to welcome me back and check in with me-- at last count I've had extended conversations with 5 people and heard lots of news.  There were some people who came by and didn't stop because of the steady stream of traffic through my study.

I've identified one ball that got dropped while I was gone and formulated a plan for picking it up.  The installation of the new HVAC unit for the sanctuary is now two weeks behind schedule, and I have announced that if it isn't done for this Sunday, we will be moving downstairs where it is cooler, since I don't do well with heat.  (Fortunately the office is on a separate unit that is functioning well.)   I've had an update on the day camp we will be hosting next week.  So far,  things are falling into place nicely.  Other churches have had problems getting registrations, we have a waiting list.  Now I need to gather my thoughts for this evening's board meeting.  We are going to have to deal with some things that would normally be handled by other groups, but that's what happens when it's summer and all the groups aren't meeting regularly and the pastor is gone for 4 weeks.  I am wondering why I thought it would be a good idea to meet on my first day back, but it will be fine.  .

I have to say, it's great to be back connecting with folks and making plans.  I do love my life.  I may not have mentioned that recently....

My Turn

Last month my spiritual director pointed out that my first year here, my focus was on the congregation and getting to know them.  Last year I focused on Daughter, and getting her adjusted and seeing that she was safe in her new home.  This year, it's time to focus on myself.  My goal is to find the balance that has been missing from my life.  I've been spending some time in prayer and with my journal as I contemplated how to achieve this elusive balance. 

This morning is my first day back in the office, and instead of coming in bright and early, I waited until about 9:00 to arrive.  Instead of jumping right into work, I took the time to unpack and organize a little bit.  I have set some goals for how I work, including working at the desk at home, rather than having my computer open in front of me wherever I am. 

I have set up a spot in the formal living room (seldom used) for my daily personal worship.  I'm not sure it will stay there, but that's where it is for now.  I want it someplace away from distractions, some place that has a single purpose.   So far, it is working well.  I have a candle I light when I'm there.  I haven't used a candle for a while, but for years it was a signal to Daughter that this was my time with God and she needed to wait.  Of course, there were times when she'd stand just within my peripheral vision fidgeting as she waited.  There were times when she would be so distracting I'd interrupt what I was doing to see what she wanted.  She'd protest that she could wait, and I'd tell her to just tell me what she wanted.  I don't have her distracting me now, but Kitten did end up on my lap.  I realized that it isn't very often I'm sitting still with an empty lap.  I think Kitten is going to like my new routine.       

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perspective 2

This morning we went to worship in a sister church across town (chosen because I knew they had air conditioning).  The pastor was focusing on the peace Christ gives.  During the children's time, she read a story by Bishop Desmond Tutu.  She introduced it by explaining a little bit about Bishop Tutu and apartheid in S. Africa.  The story itself was wonderful (I just ordered a copy, and will be using it at some point in the future.)  In the course of her sermon, she mentioned the Olympics, and Jesse Owens, and the struggles he had had for acceptance.  

At lunch, Daughter was in a foul mood.  She informed me she had found the worship service to be very disturbing.  I was surprised, and asked what was disturbing about it.  She heard the explanation of apartheid and shut down.  As far as she was concerned, the whole service was racist.  Once again it's a matter of perspective.  I explained to her more about apartheid, and we looked up Jesse Owens on line, but I'm not sure she heard any of it.  I think it's hard to live in Daughter's head. 

When we got home, she helped me finish the guest room/study.  I think this is the first time it's really been clean since we moved in.  It's nice.  I love the color I selected for this room, and am looking forward to spending more time in it.  In fact, I'm sitting at the desk right now to work on my laptop-- which I believe is a first.  I'm going to be ready to jump back into things tomorrow. 


I shared that Daughter would have a difficult time with my back issues.  She has s decided it's time to begin looking for a nursing home for me.  She doesn't think I should live alone any more.  She is serious-- she sees me as very old and in very poor health.  She has forgotten I just spent a week camping in a tent.  She has forgotten that I've spent much of the summer working in the yard, constructing raised garden beds and filling them.  For her the only reality is that I've been having some back spasms.  She has always lived in the immediate moment, to the point that nothing else exists.  It makes life very challenging for her, and is one of the things that necessitates supervision for her.  She could make a decision in the midst of the moment that could have far reaching consequences.  I am continually trying to teach her perspective.  Yesterday she thought I was being unreasonable because I didn't think she should go out with a particular man.  I've lost count of  the number of times she has agreed to be his girlfriend, only to have it end in tears.  She assured me he'd changed, this time would be different.  I pointed out that is what she's told me every time.  She finally told him she just wanted to be friends, and he hung up on her.  Yup, he's really changed. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I picked up Daughter this morning, and we have spent the day cleaning.  She has been super cooperative and worked hard.  My back no longer has spasms, it's just a little sore, so I've been able to do lots of work.  I may achieve my goal of having the house clean before I start back to work, which pleases me. 

Daughter is interested in having a boy friend again.  I suggested that starting at the workshop would be enough stress for now.  I don't think I convinced her. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Vacation Pictures

There isn't much to blog about when life comes to a stop while I wait for a the back spasms to stop, so I thought I'd share some vacation pictures:

Our campsite.  I love having the screen house, and have a pretty nice kitchen set  up inside of it. 

Sunrise our first morning.  I was the only one up to see it, which was just fine. 

We visited a winery with Sister and Short Niece.  This was the view.

Daughter on one of the trails we hiked.

Sunset from the cabin built by some members.  We spent a delightful evening visiting them and talking over steaks and pie. 

A view on a hike.

Daughter and another view on the same hike. 

My back is feeling good enough to figure out some pictures to upload, but not good enough to do any real work yet.  Hopefully tomorrow. 


My back is definitely improving.  Daughter was home last night, and as I thought, she was quite concerned.  She told me several times I was scaring her.  I asked her if she'd like to come tomorrow and help me do the cleaning I haven't been able to do because of my back.  I promised to pay her.  She was very eager to do that. 

The referral has gone through for her to start in a sheltered workshop one day a week.  As soon as all the key people are back from vacation, we'll have a pre-placement meeting and get her started.  She understands this is the first step towards getting a job.  I hope she will be able to make this work.  We'll increase her days there as she adjusts and is successful.  She would like to start with 2 or 3 days a week, but that's not going to happen.  I wish I were more optimistic about her ability to succeed there.  She's matured so much-- maybe she is ready now to make this work. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Mother's Love

When my alarm went off at 6:00 this morning, I couldn't reach it.  After 10 minutes, it went off on its own.  At 7:00, I woke up and contemplated my situation.  The head of my bed is elevated because of my GERD.  As a result, I sometimes slide down towards the foot during the night.  I was in the middle of my full size bed when I woke up this morning.  I couldn't reach the head of my bed to pull myself up.  I couldn't swing my legs over the edge of the bed. 

I spent over 10 minutes trying to work my way to a better spot in the bed.  I pondered.  I managed to get my feet and lower legs to the edge of the bed, but couldn't push myself up to a sitting position.  I was making slow process when the phone rang.  I knew it would be Daughter.  I also knew that if I didn't answer the phone Daughter would be convinced something was very wrong with me.  Okay, so there's something a little wrong with me.  It's not life threatening though, and Daughter would be sure I was going to die. 

I rolled over to my stomach and my feet hit the floor.  I pushed myself up to a standing position.  It took a minute or two, but I finally was able to let go of the bed.  I missed her call to my cell phone, but when she called the land line, I was able to answer it.  My love for Daughter was what enabled me to roll out of bed this morning.  My back is definitely in better shape than it was yesterday, but I think I may look up that chiropractor a colleague recommended to me....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I stood up this morning and felt a sharp pain across my back.  I'm choosing my movements very carefully now, and planning ahead if I need to walk someplace, like to the bathroom.  I'm having lots of muscle spasms. 

In the midst of the pain, I'm grateful:

  • It didn't happen last week, when we were camping.
  • It didn't happen next week, when I'm back in the office.
  • It didn't happen in front of Daughter, she would have freaked out. 
  • I'm grateful I haven't had back problems like this in 12 years. 
I'm hoping to be in a little less pain tomorrow-- Daughter gets very scared when I'm not feeling well. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Reflections on a News Story

Last week I read a news story on my phone that got me thinking.  (It wasn't that exact article, but this covers the story.)  Obviously, the story is disturbing.  What bothered me more, though, were the comments that various readers had posted.  They bothered me so much that I only read a couple before deciding I needed to focus on something else. 

The basics of the story:  Mom drives from Illinois to Tennessee where she pushes her 19 year old daughter through the door of a bar and leaves.  Her daughter had the mental capacity of a toddler, and was unable to communicate her name or where she was from.  The criticism of the mother was intense.  Most of the comments that I read thought that the mother should have continued to care for her daughter in her home forever. 

Let me be clear:  I don't approve of or condone what the mother did.  In the article I read, she said her minister told her that there were lots of Christians in Tennessee and they'd take good care of her daughter, so that's why she took her there to abandon her.  There were comments from state officials in Illinois stating what she had done was unnecessary, as there were resources available to her in Illinois that would have given her a couple of hours a day of in home help.  There was also great frustration that since the daughter was 19, the mom was not legally responsible for her and had broken no laws by abandoning her. 

With that background, here are my thoughts: 

I don't think any of those commentators understood what is involved in caring for a severely handicapped adult.  I am very fortunate that as a minister I can set my own hours and my schedule is so flexible, because there is no way I could have kept a regular job while caring for Daughter in my home.  Her medical appointments generally took a minimum of half a day, and there were months when she had several of them.  She couldn't be left unsupervised for her own safety.  It was like being the parent of a toddler, except toddlers are cute and you know they will grow and become more responsible.  Friends and family are very willing to give you a break and watch your toddler for you, the same isn't true with a developmentally handicapped adult.  Daycare is expensive, and adult daycare is even more expensive.  All the cuts to social services and medicaid have gutted the resources available to the developmentally handicapped.  I don't know what the particular services were that were available for this mother and daughter, but I know that even having Daughter in a full time day program didn't provide me the coverage to be gone at work for 8 or 9 hours.  I benefited because Daughter has always had a long bus ride, which added at least 90 minutes to her day.  Even that wouldn't have been enough to cover full time work outside the home when we were in Tiny Village. 

Providing care for a developmentally handicapped adult who needs full time supervision can make it impossible to work a full time job.  They qualify for SSI, but that isn't enough to cover their expenses, let alone make up for the income lost from not being able to work full time.  Setting the financial/employment challenges aside, caring for a developmentally handicapped adult is emotionally stressful.

I didn't realize how much stress it was until Daughter moved to the group home last fall.  Again, I don't know the particulars in this case, but I do know how exhausting it is to live with a toddler in an adult's body.  I also know it can be dangerous.  Toddler temper tantrums are no fun, but when thrown by someone in an adult body, they are dangerous.  They can be very dangerous.  If her daughter had injured one of her other children in a tantrum, the mother could have been charged with child neglect and lost custody of her other children. 

I am not in a position to judge the actions of that mother.  I can only begin to imagine how painful it must have been to abandon her daughter that way.  The article commented on the fact that the daughter had obviously been very well cared for prior to being abandoned.  I can only begin to imagine the stress that led her to such desperate measures. 

I can't imagine circumstances in which I would have done something like that with Daughter.  I can imagine the desperation that led the mother to take those actions.  Rather than judging the mother, let's look at what led to her actions.  Let's ponder what would have been necessary for her to keep her daughter in her home, or even in the same community.  Let's find out why those resources weren't available for her. 

One of the reasons I moved from Tiny Village was because I wanted more resources/opportunities for Daughter.  It would have been 5-10 years before there would have been funding for a group home for her (assuming that the state didn't make any deeper slashes to funding).  There was one state where I explored resources for Daughter after an excellent phone interview.  I made contact with ARC in that area, and the response was to not even consider moving to that state.  I wasn't surprised, as an online search had revealed that there were multiple lawsuits against the state with regard to lack of services. 

It was a real struggle finding a group home here that could handle Daughter-- on paper she doesn't qualify for the level of supervision she needs.  If her IQ tested 3 points higher, she wouldn't qualify for any of the services she is receiving.  I feel sorry for the young woman who was abandoned by her mother, and I feel sorry for the mother, who was driven to such desperate measures to assure her daughter was cared for. 

I suspect the same people who judged that mother so harshly would have been just as outraged if the mother had been forced to seek welfare to support her other children because she couldn't hold a job and care for her daughter.  I understand shrinking government budgets, competing demands, and hard choices.  I see this story as the consequences of some of those choices.  Those hard choices made at state and federal levels drove a desperate mother to make a hard choice, too.  My heart breaks for the mother and the daughter.  

What I have discovered, 8 months after Daughter moved out, is how big a toll living with her was taking on my emotional and physical health.  I'm very grateful that I live in an area where there are the resources that have provided a safe place for her to live away from me.  Oh, and even here it can be hard.  I spoke with the mother of a severely autistic son.  She finally got him into a group home by informing the county that she would not be picking him up from respite.  She had to abandon him-- true, it wasn't in a bar in a distant state, but she still had to abandon him before she could get the resources he needed for the safety and welfare of the entire family.  I'm grateful that there are resources available, and sad that there are families who have to abandon their adult children in order to access them. 

Monday, July 16, 2012


This morning I sat down and listed out the things I hope to accomplish this week.  I spent the morning working on them, and have managed to complete 4 and make major progress on the largest one listed. 

Daughter is slightly manic right now.  Her last call came after 11:00 last night, and her first call came before 6:00 this morning.  Today was her first day back at program, and she was a little apprehensive about it. 

I went to the mall to get a battery for my watch, and ran into Administrative Assistant and her husband.  Daughter was very excited to be in worship yesterday, and was showing everyone her pictures from vacation.  Some of the stories had grown, of course, but she was enthusiastic about the fun we had.

The new HVAC unit for the sanctuary is being installed this week.  It's been hot the last 3 weeks, as the old one had completely died.  I'm glad we'd approved and ordered a new one prior to its death.  It would not have been good stewardship to put any more money into the old one.

The heat wave is back.  I'm putting off the outside work until later in the week, when it is supposed to be cooler.  Now it's back to my list....

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Daughter claims she hates peppers, mushrooms, and various other things.  Friday night we went out for pizza.  I ordered the deluxe, which had mushrooms and green peppers.  Daughter protested that she hated them.  The clerk said we could go half and half on the pizza, but I assured her it was okay, Daughter would eat the peppers and mushrooms, and she did.  She didn't leave anything on her plate. 

Today, I was out working in the garden and she called.  I told her I had just found a large pepper, and sent her a picture.  She replied that it was an awesome pepper.  I pointed out that she doesn't like peppers.  Her reply was priceless.  "I have a confusion.  I do like peppers."  She meant confession, but I think confusion is appropriate....

Sunday Off

This morning Daughter went to church courtesy of on of our members who picked her up.  She said she had to go back to our church, she didn't want to visit a different church with me.  I went to worship at a colleague's congregation.  It was nice to sit in the congregation and worship. 

When Daughter got home yesterday, she did all her laundry from vacation.  I came home and collapsed.  Of course, she's younger than I am, she slept on the drive home, and she did not do as much of the packing as I did yesterday.  She was working, but she is slow and easily distracted.  It felt good to sleep in a bed in a cool house.  I slept over 8 1/2 hours.  I generally sleep pretty well with my air mattress, and most of the time we were camping it was pleasantly cool at night.  The last two nights, however, were definitely not cool....

I have now started my laundry and intend to do some work in my garden this afternoon.  It's hot outside, so I will take frequent breaks to come in and work inside, too.  I'm going to make a list of the things I hope to accomplish during this final week of vacation.  I'm planning to do some cleaning and rearranging here at home.  I also have work I want to accomplish in my gardens, of course. 

I'm going to sit down at some point today and prioritize what I hope to accomplish.  I suspect my list will be longer than the available time, so prioritizing things will be important. I'm going to make two road trips this week-- one to get the mouse on my laptop repaired.  Daughter's laptop has been repaired and should be arriving at the church early this week.  She will be pleased when she's here Thursday to have it back.  It hasn't worked for several months, but I didn't make time to call technical support until a couple of weeks ago.  It was still under warranty, so that's good.  The mouse for my computer will be covered by the extended warranty.  I'm going to take it in so I can get it fixed the same day.  I don't want to be without it for the time it would take to send it in. 

Now I'm going to put the first load of laundry in the dryer, start the second load, and head out to the garden.  It's going to be a good afternoon. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012


We are home after a wonderful vacation.  After 3 years, it was great to be camping again.  It was a wonderful week.  Daughter did very well.  When we got home today, she was in a hurry to unload the car so she could get to her "real" home.
I'll post pictures later, but some highlights:

  • Sister and Short Niece joined us for one night.  Short Niece is a hand full, to say the least.  They left the concert early, because Short Niece was bored. 
  • We enjoyed a wonderful concert, and Daughter was able to enjoy the entire thing, and didn't ask to leave early or try to convince me she was getting sick.
  • Daughter did not get into the food while we were camping.
  • Daughter acknowledged that she enjoyed our hikes-- though they were relatively short. 
  • For most of the week, the weather was wonderful.   Thursday and Friday were a little warmer, so we spent Friday painting pottery in air conditioned comfort. 
  • Daughter was super cooperative when it came to packing up camp today. 
  • We spent a wonderful evening with a couple from the church who have a cottage in the area with a spectacular view.  They built it themselves back in the 70's.  He was a teacher, so he had the summers off, and they were able to spend all summer there. 
Apparently Sister-in-law wondered why I hadn't invited them to camp with us.  I hadn't even considered it, since they have a baby, but they bought a camper this year.  Sister and I are talking about the possibility of having all of us spend at least a weekend camping together next year.  Far Away Sister probably wouldn't come, but the rest of us could gather for a weekend.  If that happens, I will probably extend our camping time next year.  The time with Sister and Brother will be wonderful, but it won't be the relaxing, quiet time I need during my vacation. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

One Last Post

We're ready to head out now-- only the cooler left to be loaded into the car.  I'm going to let Daughter finish the movie she started, and then we'll leave.  She's been super cooperative.  This morning I was listing the things I wanted  her to do while I mowed the lawn.  I suddenly realized I was giving her a long list, and she is easily overwhelmed by that.  "Do you want me to write these down?"

"Yes!  I'm feeling like your piling things on."

While I mowed she completed the list and started on some other things, as well.  I'm glad I started on the lawn as early as I did.  It took just over an hour, and as I finished a little after 9:00, it was already 86 with a heat index much higher.  The lawn is mowed, though, and should be fine while we enjoy our camping trip. 

I'm looking forward to our week of camping.  The last two summers we weren't able to camp, in part because Daughter was wetting the bed almost every night.  She hasn't wet it since she moved out.  She commented the other day, "Well, you won't have to worry about me wetting my sleeping bag this year.  That will be nice.  She says she's looking forward to some hikes.  She knows that a day of cooperation doing the things I enjoy will get her a day doing things she wants to do.  She seemed disappointed we'd only be camping 7 nights.  I think I am, too....

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heat and Camping

Today was a record high.  When I say record high, I don't mean record for the day, I mean the highest temperature ever recorded here.  We came home and did laundry.  I went out and did some watering and weeding, and picked up all the branches that had been blown down in a storm.  I didn't try to mow the lawn, I'll do that tomorrow morning, when it's cooler. 

We got some of the gear in the car, and have some more to load tomorrow.  I hope to leave here about 11:30.  I want to check in to the campground at 3:00 (or a little earlier, though officially we can't check in until 3:00).  At 5:00 we'll walk over to the concert.  Here's the exciting news:  right now it's about 15 degrees cooler at the state park.  For the first 4-5 days we're there, the forecast calls for highs of 80-82 and lows of 55-57.  As far as I'm concerned, that's perfect camping weather. 

Sister and Short Niece are going to join us for tomorrow evening.  I spoke to Sister this afternoon, and she was planning to skip the sleeping bags and just bring a sheet.  I asked her if she'd checked the forecast, and told her I thought she'd want a sleeping bag. 

Daughter has been super cooperative with the work we've had to do since we got home.  She has matured so much.  I have decided I'm not going to take my computer, so I won't be blogging for the next week or so.  Stay cool!

A Melt Down

Daughter had a melt down yesterday evening after worship.  It was our final night, and she was upset because we would be saying goodbye to everyone this morning.  She was able to tell me why she was so upset.  She wanted to leave immediately, to avoid the hard goodbyes.  Instead, I made her walk with me around the lake. We'd had a storm that had cooled the temperature down to tolerable.

As we began, Daughter protested, insisting she wasn't going to go, complaining I'd get her lost.  When we arrived at the labyrinth on the other side of the lake, she told me not to walk it, and talked about how she didn't want to be there.  I didn't engage her complaints and protests, and proceeded to walk the labyrinth while praying aloud about how hard it is to say goodbye, and asking God to guide us though changes and the hard times.  When we set off again we came across a sign on the prayer trail that quoted one of the psalms.  I began to sing a praise song based on the psalm, and she joined in. 

As we approached the main building, I asked if she was going to go on the water slide, which was going to be open from 9:00 to 10:00.  She insisted she wasn't interested.  Then we meet a couple of teenagers who asked Daughter if she was going to go.  As soon as we got back, she rushed to her room the change into her swimsuit.  When she came back to the main building, I was part of a group sitting in the lobby.  She reported she'd gone down 3 times, and had gotten twisted around the last time, which scared her.  Then she danced off to our room, singing. 

A number of people commented on how much she has grown and matured in the last year.  I have to agree.  It was a good week.  We're home now, and the last load of laundry is in the washing machine.  Tomorrow we head out to a state park to camp, and we have a concert tomorrow night.  Today is hot.  As in, we may break the all time recorded high for this city.  I need to mow the lawn before we head out tomorrow.  I'm not sure how that will work out....

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Daughter has been pretty independent this year.  This afternoon there is a basketball game between the youth and the adults.  Daughter is going to play.  She knew I had no desire to sit in a hot gym and watch, so she went to Friend and informed her that I wouldn't let her go unless Friend went to keep her safe. Friend is a special ed teacher and them other a son with diabetes.  Daughter loves her. 

Friend, of course, told me what Daughter had said.  I told her that I had told Daughter I had confidence in her ability to keep herself safe, and she didn't need anyone to go with her.  About that time Daughter comes out in the lobby, where we have been talking.  I reminded her of what I had actually said, and told her I was not happy with the lie.  She wasn't happy that I embarrassed her.  I told her she had embarrassed herself, and she needed to remember that I have spies everywhere. 

She went over to the gym to play basketball.  Friend went over to cheer all of the players on, and if Daughter has a problem, she'll be there to help.  I love living in this community for Conference.  It truly is a wonderful gift. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It is hot here, as it is in much of the country.  We're under heat and air quality warnings.  Fortunately, the facilities are air conditioned and my room is in the main building, so I don't have to go outside.  Even those of us who are staying inside are dragging in this heat. 

Daughter is still homesick, and got frustrated in the class where she is a helper.  She took a long nap this afternoon, so hopefully that helped.  We're in the midst of the annual talent show drama.  She has signed up to be in it, and is stressing out over it.  I have suggested she take her name off the list, but she won't.  She knows, though, that I have no patience for the talent show drama, so she's dropped a few hints, but I'm not biting. 

She is much more independent this year, which is nice.  I've been allowing her to carry her own insulin, which seems to be working.  I'm teaching a Bible study, and taking a painting class.  I've never done any painting, and I find I'm enjoying it.  The instructor is introducing us to various techniques, and I'm enjoying the class.

This has been a wonderful time to relax and unwind, and I'm enjoying it.  Even though I'm teaching a class, there's  plenty of time for conversation and relaxation.  I'm looking forward to camping next week.  I've been watching the forecast, and it looks like the weather will be more reasonable.  I hope so, anyway. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Conference

Daughter and I arrived here at our conference late Sunday afternoon.  Daughter was so excited about being here.  She was out of the car and hugging friends before I had even turned the car off. 

Sunday evening I discovered I forgot to pack a power cord for my computer.  Since I'm teaching a class, that was a problem, as I'm heavily dependent on PowerPoint for my teaching.  After pondering a number of options, I called Administrative Assistant at home and told her I needed a huge favor.  When I told her I forgot my power cord, she just laughed.  She went in on her day off yesterday and retrieved one from my office and shipped it to me overnight mail.  It arrived this morning.  I called her to tell her how awesome she is, and she laughed, "So you got it." 

The battery gave out half way through my class yesterday, and the class let me know that they missed the PowerPoint, so last night I borrowed Sister Best Friend's computer and flash drive, and then used a class member's computer during class this morning.  It worked, but I'm glad to have my own computer up and running again.  Many people tried to loan me their power cords, but none fit.  I even offered a large bag of M&M's as a reward for the person who could provide a cord that would work.  I'll give the M&M's to AA when I drop the projector back at the church on Friday.

As always, I'm loving my time here at the conference as I visit old friends and make new ones.  The class I'm teaching is a small but amazing group, and we're having a good time wrestling with Scripture together.  Daughter is a little homesick, but that doesn't surprise me.  She's doing well and is much more independent this year.  It's great to see the growth in her.  Now it's time to go prepare for tomorrow's class....

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I just broke one of my own rules, and posted a political opinion on facebook.  Someone had posted a quote by Donald Trump complaining about the Affordable Care Act.  One of his points alluded to the concern there won't be enough physicians to provide care for the people who will now have insurance.  So now an argument against it is that if my neighbor has access to life saving care I may have to wait longer to see a doctor. 

I don't think the plan is perfect.  There are many parts of it I don't like.  However, I'm willing to take an imperfect plan if it will provide access to care to my neighbors.  I don't like taxes, but I'm willing to pay higher taxes to save lives.  I am frustrated by those who refuse to acknowledge that the current system is broken, and to fix it, those of us with good insurance and incomes may have to make some sacrifices.  I think that's what Jesus would want us to do.  He made sacrifices for us, and called us to follow him.  I don't recall him saying following him meant being anti-tax and opposing programs to provide a safety net for the poor. 

I'd like to see those who are so against the plan offer an alternative.  Instead of denouncing it and opposing it, address the issues that created the need for it.  I'd love to see a better plan.  I hear the stories:  of people who stay in terrible jobs because they need the insurance, of people who can't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition, of people who can't get treatment for life threatening conditions simply because they don't have insurance and can't afford the treatment.  Yes, the uninsured can get emergency care today.  What they can't get, though, is ongoing treatment for chronic conditions.

Instead of worrying about the financial cost of this plan, let's consider the human cost of not implementing reform.  Instead of just condemning the plan, offer a better alternative.  I'm willing to live with an imperfect plan that will save lives while we search for a better alternative.