Thursday, November 29, 2007

I didn't want to believe it when I first heard that he was sick. I thought to myself, "He'll rally. He's a strong man. You should see the way he wrastles them goats."

Dr. Butler, an extraordinary vet and human being, passed away yesterday. I've blogged about him before. He treated anyone's animal who needed help regardless of the owner's ability to pay. It's been said that Dr. Butler's books showed half a million dollars in the red, but that never deterred his fair practice. His waiting room displayed social services for every walk of person and animal. His office has long been a clasdestine drop off and subsequent residence for strays of all sorts.

Upon my first visit, I mused over the ducks, dogs, and cats snoozing on the ratty chairs in the lobby as we waited our turn. I think back to the time he made every effort to save my son's dying gerbil. I consider the visit I forgot money and his nurses tried to give me the medicine for my goats for free. I think of how he straddled my skiddish Great Pyraneese to draw blood for testing. I grin at his laughter produced by him in response to my questions regarding castration for my goat.

Dr. Butler,
I'll miss your looming stature, your gentle way with the very small to gigantic creatures, and your compassion to all. Knoxville has been a better place for having you in it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Last night, after home school and Buck was away at work, I snuck away to my room to study for my course this coming weekend. I believed the children were enthralled in a rip roarin' game of Monopoly, so I dove head long into my books knowing they were occupied. I slipped into deep thought about the topic "Liturgy as Memorial". My mind flipped to a meaningful memorial service for a dear friend years ago. His short life had impacted our entire city. I considered the work of God's people as memorial of Christ. What,who,why are we remembering? What is the impact today of Christ's short life?

I researched Jewish traditions observed at the Last Supper meal, and I'm still in awe of the connections I miss by not understanding Judaism. Did you know the tradition of a man offering a woman a cup of wine as a proposal of marriage? If she drank from the cup, she committed herself to the man for life. Consider Christ offering the disciples the wine at the Last Supper and the significance of His followers, who fully comprehended this Jewish tradition, accepting the drink. It's amazing imagery.

I contemplated Christ's command at the Last Supper to "Do this in remembrance of me." We have many Christian symbols to remind us of our faith. I was struck that the cross, while powerful, was not the way in which Christ commanded us to think of His death and resurrection. Instead he offered us a simple meal with Himself, of Himself. No gore, no pain, just beautiful bread and wine. How gentle.

These thoughts and others of people I love lead me to prayer. I sang softly and welled up in tears. Monopoly must have come to a screeching halt, because my children burst into my room at the precise moment I cried. Tater, of course, noticed my red eyes and spoke, "Mom, what's wrong?" I explained that it was all too much to talk about. He announced, "I came in here to ask for dinner, but now I'm cooking. Do not come out of your room." He rounded up Pooh Bear to set the table and got busy. He grilled chicken, cooked corn, and baked crescent rolls for an all yellow dinner. Tater even mixed milkshakes for everyone for dessert. I'm so blessed. As much as I worry about him, his compassion is unmistakably in place.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I wished I'd have blogged my feelings about American health care before I watched Michael Moore's Sicko. That way I would remembered all the reasons I've believed America's health care system, though flawed, worked best. Afterall, I have good medical coverage. As much as I hate to admit it, this movie changed my views somewhat.

Some of Michael Moore's belittling style bugs me, and I certainly do not buy into his political agenda. I found the 20 minutes I watched of his Fahrenheit 911 to be much too long. However, Sicko brought home to me price we pay against humanity in our own country.

Why would Canadians need to purchase medical insurance before entering the U.S.?
Why would Americans need to fake Canadian residence to get medical care?

How could insurance company employees who deny life saving procedures sleep at night?

How is it that we provide better health care for terrorist inmates imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay than 911 heroes?
Why would Cuba medically treat those same 911 heroes for free?
How can a $120 medicine be dispensed for 5 cents in Cuba?

What happens to an American homeless person when she has nowhere to go to recover from wounds or illness?

How can American mothers with full health coverage lose children due to refusal to treat because the family rushed to the "wrong" hospital in their city?

A few thoughts I had during the movie
A hospital is not a family and cannot pretend to be one for homeless people. What should happen when someone has been treated and needs to be released into some one's care? Hospitals dumping them out on the street is not right, but what is?

Michael did not bring up the care for the elderly or homeless in Europe. Does one need an address to be treated? He didn't show examples of working class Europeans struggling. Why are the English so infamous for bad teeth if dental is free?

Michael failed to mention Cuba's human rights violations- which may be an unwelcome trade off for free medical.

Some things the movie did not explore enough which I'd like to know more about
Doesn't most cutting edge medical technology come from the U.S.? And don't countries with socialized medicine benefit greatly from our costly technology? Wouldn't socialized medicine in the U.S. gut new advances gained by a capitalistic approach to medicine? Seriously.

Any responses to these question from you? Comments welcome.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why blog when I'm madly pulling together an impromtu trip to Florida to visit with my mother, her husband and his brother for Thanksgiving? I suppose I want to get some thoughts down.

This week I connected with two other adoptive parents. I'm convinced we could all use a "shot in the arm" to encourage us. I'm earnestly seeking a particular author/speaker, but I cannot find any way to get in touch. I think I'll try his publisher. I have some very specific topics I'd like to explore in a workshop.

Don't get me wrong. Things have been steady and relatively good with my Tater for some time now, but I want more. I want more connection. More bonding. Greater understanding between the both of us. I can tell in his words and actions that he also wants more and doesn't know how to get it. Since he's twelve, I don't have much longer to go deeper. These last few years need to really count.

Can you tell I've been reading teen age parenting books? I gulp thinking about the other side of the window of opportunity closing in fast. The power is shifting as teenagers only give parents the amount of control they choose. In the blink of an eye, a teen can decide they've had enough of my mess. What they don't get at home, they find elsewhere. So, Buck and I are working hard to establish friendship with our older children and offer a redemptive home. Hard every day work for sure.

Buck, Peace, and I have nearly decided to send Peace to a private high school next year. Another huge gulp! Can you believe I have a son going into high school? Where did that time go? It's costly and will kick his academic tail, but we're sure it's a good fit. In many ways, I'll miss him in our homeschool mix. Afterall, he's my science and history teacher this year.

Off to pack and plan. Catch ya later.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I don't know how it happened. I have some good guesses below which will not change the tragic results. We Protestant Evangelicals have created a chasm between ourselves and our children in worship. Someone, I don't know who, invented children's church, and that's the last we've seen of our children during Sunday morning services- Poof!, and the wonder in the eyes of a child was stripped from the worship experience altogether.

Is it because children are no longer capable of comprehending the Gospel? Do children of this new generation require things particularly tailored to them?

Or is it because parents no longer know how to parent in the church setting?

Have churches become distracted and annoyed by young ones during the "real" action of the service?

All I know for sure is that I miss little voices singing in sincerity and the conviction of youth when I attend church.

And I want them back.

I've had folks who believe the same way ask, "There are plenty of churches who do welcome children into liturgy. Why not find one and stop whining?" The answer is simple- I am called at this time to the Protestant Evangelical Church, with all its beauty and weakness. If it's not heresy to quote Ghandi for Christian purposes, I intend "to be the change I wish to see."

Last night, our church hosted an uncommon event. We worshipped intentionally as a families. One gifted family made up the music team- two beautiful daughters and a mom on vocals, dad leading, son on guitar. That entire family whole-heartedly sang, but the confident and cute-as-a-button six year old at the microphone melted me.'

My entire family danced something I choreographed to a Mercy Me song. I simply asked my household to consider the dance as an offering to an audience of One though we were to dance in front of quite a crowd. Tater, a self conscious tween, refused at first. I wasn't about to require a gift of worship from any family member. However, he came to me after careful consideration and prayer and said, "Though I might feel embarrassed, it's something I feel I am supposed to do." That was a moment with Tater I wouldn't trade for the world, my friends.''

The service provided built in silent contemplative listening time complete with journals, crayons and pencils. We considered scripture together in small groups, and ended with active, flag waving worship at the end. You might find this irreverent, but I didn't- Wise One and a buddy threw down some guitar hero moves as they enjoyed God and the music.

Afterwards, I thought aloud, "That is church!" My congregation plans to do this another time in the next year. Perhaps it's the start to the change I hope to be.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill expressed the same sentiment in the nineteenth century:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded
state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is
much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing
which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and
has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better
men than himself.8
Dave Kopel

Active pacifism always resounds in my heart, but the practice seems to hinge on others protection in order for a person to hold the view. What of this paradox?

Hat tip to John for the article.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

To borrow a phrase from Scott, The Vyne family has a used-but-new-to-us "phat minivan". Oh yeah, it is a sweet ride. Of course, that is compared to our dented, paint peeling, ripping upholstered, goat and dog hairy, bare steering columned, sour milk smelling 1991 Previa van.

I don't bring up our new purchase, because I want to provoke jealousy. It is just a 2002, but it might be the first vehicle we've ever owned within the same decade it was made.

And I also wanted to give you the contrast of the old van to enable you to appreciate our middle son's new obsession- keeping the "new" car's bling. Tater chides his siblings when they leave so much as a straw wrapper on the seat or floor. He meticulously vacuums the van several times a week. In fact, he's already swept out the carpet more times in the last month than our Previa received in it's entire six years of service to us.

Tater had something of a hissy fit on Halloween when we decided to decorate the Previa, not the new Odyssey, in a farm motif for "Trunk or Treat" at our church. Sissy- our goat, bales of hay, a rooster, and Buck in overalls added the finishing touch to the theme. Tater protested out of style embarrassment saying, "Please let's take the new van. I promise I'll clean it out! You know I will." I simply couldn't trust that he'd find the right disinfecting solutions for goat and chicken poo.

So what gives with this child? Are tweens supposed to pay this much attention to car detailing? Is he relieved he doesn't have to be caught dead in a junker any longer?

By the way, that junker still runs like a dream. We just aren't sure what might fall off next.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Though we live at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, we don't get there as often as one might think. So Friday, I made a last minute proposal to Buck that our family head to Pigeon Forge for an overnight, and hike in the morning.
We hit our favorite restaurant first, The Apple Barn, where the apple is king. The wait was an hour and a half as usual, so Buck took the children to the enormous barn gift shop while I listened to my book on CD. Forty minutes into the wait, Peace bounced up to the van and anounnced, "Come and eat." Apparently, the cute factor in Pooh Bear landed us an early table abandoned by a party of five. Confectioner's sugar coated apple fritters, apple butter, apple julips, country cooking, and desserts galore awaited.
We found a cheap hotel with an indoor pool in which to swim. In the morning, there was a free carbohydrate festival in the hotel breakfast room. I kid you not, there was nothing but cereals and breads. Buck commented that the bagels must have been valu-time (our grocery's poor quality generic food label) rejects. I wouldn't have believed I could meet a bagel with cream cheese I didn't like, but I spit my first bite out into my napkin and went with off-brand fruit loops instead. After, my boys carb-loaded on cereal, toast, nasty sweet rolls, and oatmeal, we got on the road to find our hiking trail.
We chose an easy path for Pooh Bear called Laurel Falls. The drought left the fall foliage lacking a touch the usual richness and variety of color. However, the majesty of the mountains didn't disappoint. With the crisp autumn air surrounding, the hovering rocks, fallen tree giants, laurels lining our walk, we took in the fresh orange and yellow morning.
Along the trail, were several signs stating the danger of falling deaths which made my boys a little too curious about the edges of the cliffs for my comfort. They'd drag me to the side of the footway to stare down at a 100 foot sheer cliff and ask, "Mom, do you think someone died here?" My answer, "Yes, and I'd like it very much if we weren't the next fatality."
It was quite a strange experience once we arrived at Laurel Falls. Yes, there was a water fall, but not with the normal rushing water one must shout above to speak. The drought had crippled her too, limiting her flow to more less a pouring stream rather than the forceful pounding beauty I'd remembered from the past. A wonder crossed my mind, "Is this how a desert begins when the world changes climate?"
After the hike, we ate lunch with Buck and packed him off to work overtime. Three children begged for haircuts, and afterwards we headed home. All four helped with two chores and played the rest of the afternoon while I cleaned some more. I love a clean house for our Sabbath. Tater kept slipping in his socks on the tidy floors. Twice he fell within a few minutes, so I joked, "Tater, honey, I suppose your feet usually stick to the nasty floors around here. Perhaps it would be best if we never cleaned again, because washed floors do you in."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Notes from the Homeschool Front

Tater, the boy who spent the summer in France meeting children from twelve nations, wrote the following in an English assignment. Apparently, his multi-cultural experience didn't neccessarily translate.

Turn these Proper nouns into adjectives.
1. The (Cuba) Cubic people are famous for making cigars.
2. The (Italy) Italish sausage tasted flavorful.

Don't worry, grandparents. We are raising true scholars.