Feeble Knees

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bad Mama Guilt Trip

I experienced another pregnancy first this morning at approximately 4:50 am. It was my first "What kind of awful mother am I?" guilt trip.

I should not complain. Compared to what some women go through, I have had it so easy these last twelve weeks. I've never been sick, I've been pretty much able to eat whatever I feel like eating and things have been going really well. I got a great bill of health at my last OB appointment. So if I start complaining now, well, you and a bunch of other people are going to think I have a few screws loose.

But that's one of the things we humans do best, right? Complaining is our forte. I also happen to think that New Englanders tend to be world champion complainers; I could write a whole separate dissertation to support that claim. I am particularly vulnerable to indulging my plaintive nature very early in the morning, particularly after a bad bout of insomnia. If I have a single defense on which to base my case at all, it is insomnia-induced insanity.

I dropped off to sleep pretty quickly last night. We'd had a long but very nice visit with my family for Easter. I was beat. Mr. F dozed off pretty quickly too. At four AM I awoke for my nightly trip to the loo. To my surprise, our senior citizen kitty was still on the bed with us. Usually we put both cats out of the room once we go to sleep, so I figured Mr. F just dozed off without laying down the usual law. Since he'd been sleeping peacefully, I decided to let the sleeping kitty lie.

But shortly after my return to bed, kitty was wide awake and purring. Kitty wanted to sit by my head on the pillow and purr in my face. Loudly. I buried my face in the pillow and hoped he'd just go back to sleep. Whiskers and a little wet nose burrowed into my cheek. I rolled over facing the other way. Little paws climbed over me in the dark. I rolled again. He eventually made his way over to Mr. F's pillow to sleep by his head.

By this time the hungry horrors had kicked in - hunger pangs that could not, would not be ignored. "No!" I moaned. "I don't want to get up again! Please, can't we just sleep?" The hunger pains continued and intensified. "We had mounds of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and dessert today," I bargained. "What more could you possibly want?" Rumble, rumble rumble. "Feed me," came the response.

I grabbed the kitty and lumbered downstairs to the kitchen. Both kitties decided it must be breakfast time and began mewling for food and pacing around me. My stomach growled and my head ached and I nearly tripped over a kitty in dark. The clock over the microwave beamed 4:45 in bright luminescent blue. I wanted to be in bed, all cozy with blankets and pillows. I wanted to be able to sleep on my side without my back aching and my belly stretching and my tummy rumbling. I wanted to sleep through just one night without having to get up in the dark to go pee. Then I realized in several months I'll just be adding a crying, hungry nursing baby to the mix.

"This is it girl," I thought. "Welcome to your new life as a mommy!"

That is when I started to feel just a bit bad for myself, and I started to remember the former days when I could come and go as I pleased, eat whatever I wanted and generally carry on however I wished, free as a bird. This lasted approximately 0.05 seconds. Then the Big Guilt hit.

"You selfish, awful person! What kind of mother are you going to be? You better straighten up your act and ask God to help you and quick lady, because you haven't even begun to be inconvenienced yet, and you're already complaining. Quit yer whining!"

So it was that at approximately 4:50 AM on the first day of my 13th week of pregnancy, I became convinced that I had already badly flunked the mommy self-sacrifice test. Clearly I am a monster and unfit to raise this child. Other mothers are probably happy to wake up in the middle of the night to feed their children, both born and unborn. They probably thrill at every gentle reminder of the life that is growing within them. Yessir, I am a bad, bad mommy.

In the light of day, I suspect I'm not the only mom-to-be to find herself a little overwhelmed and downright cranky about the changes taking place in her body. Most likely there are other parents who are not overjoyed to be awake at four in the morning when they'd much rather be sleeping soundly. But I'm probably also not the first to feel guilty for getting cranky about it either. But in the cold, dark quiet of the pre-dawn hours, it's pretty hard to tune out the voice of the accuser.

At about 4:51 am, in the dim glow of the stove light, I glimpsed the text of my little daily promise calendar on the kitchen windowsill. The text for the day leapt off the page.

Thank You that You will work through me and I don't have to strive in my own strength. Amen.*

At about 4:52 AM, I bowed my head and acknowledged my weaknesses and my need.

"God, you know I can't do all this without you. There is no way. You're going to have to help me, because I really need You. How else am I going to do this?"

There is no doubt in my mind I will continue to be weak and have less than stellar moments. This has been true of me up to the present time, so I have no illusions that my faults and weaknesses will be in any way minimized or eradicated in motherhood. I'm expecting that even my little hidden faults and quirks will loom large in the months and years to come. There is no mirror like a child that can reveal everything about yourself you never wanted to admit.

I'm trying to see my weakness as strength, in that more I admit it and accept it, the less I'll try to do in my own power and the more I'll rely on the Lord. Well, hopefully that's how things will go. I know that's how it should go. Honestly becoming a mom is such a big and scary thing to me, at present I have no problem at all running to my Father in complete vulnerability and saying "Lord, I need your help!"

Come to think of it, I suppose that's not a bad place to be. No, that's not too bad at all.

*Excerpted from A Thankful Heart, ©1993 Chatham Publications.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Baby Feeble Hams it Up

So today was the big day, our twelve week visit with the obstetrician. Having heard a few too many pregnancy horror stories lately, I've been sort of holding my breath until we could finally hear baby Feeble's heartbeat for ourselves.

Thankfully Mr. F was with me, or I might not have managed a coherent response when the doctor asked me: "So how are you?"

"Nervous!" I blurted out, then rambled on about my fears that we wouldn't be able to hear the heartbeat today, and what that could mean. The doctor kind of shot a quick look over at Mr. F as if to gauge whether or not I was always this neurotic and paranoid. He was very reassuring, and after going over my latest test results (all good, thank God) and answering some questions, we got right down to the business at hand.

"It always takes a few minutes to find it," he cautioned, "Don't worry. If we aren't able to pick it up here, we will go down the hall and do an ultrasound right away." This put me a little more at ease. My biggest fear was that they'd pat me on the back, send me home and say "We'll try again next time, have a good day."

The doctor rubbed a little gel on my belly and pressed the doppler lightly into my skin. "Here's you," the doctor said, pausing long enough for us to hear a low swooshing sound that was the echo of my heartbeat. A few seconds passed as he rubbed the doppler lightly over my belly. A smile crossed his face. "And here's the baby!"

Much louder than the echo of my heartbeat was this rapid little thump thump thump, or what sounded more like a thump than a swoosh. I looked up at Mr. F and saw his eyes were all red and shiny, filled a bit to the brim with joy, awe, and pride. "Wow, that's loud, I think the baby is moving closer so it can show off. It's really hamming it up for us!"

"Well considering its parents that would come as no surprise," I laughed. I could barely breathe, and strained to catch the sound of every beat; strong, loud, unmistakable, undeniable. I could have sat there and listened for hours. When the doctor stopped I grudgingly had to admit that of course he had other tummies that he had to go listen to today, even if mine was the most special of them all. Time was up.

Give how much Baby Feeble hammed it up just to be heard loud and clear, one can only imagine what this child will be like in front of a camera. We suspect it will be making faces at us during the ultrasound.

"Nanny nanny boo boo! Phblblblblbt!"

Yep. That's our kid. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Sweetest Thing

There's a brand new sweet little baby girl in the world. Congratulations Joe and Jane. Isn't she lovely indeed? God bless her!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Pregnancy Update: The Mental Fog is Lifting

There is a light at the end of the tunnel! I won't be exhausted and mentally deficient forever!

We're nearing the end of week 11, and I'm happy to report that I seem to be feeling a little more like my old self again, with a little more energy to spare. It seems that for the past eight weeks or so my body shut down all unnecessary systems in order to give its full attention to developing this little baby. It's kinda like on Star Trek when they have to bring down the shields on the starship Enterprise so they can go into warp drive, or something like that. Critical thinking? Unnecessary! Creative ability? Superfluous! Don't think, just eat, sleep, and make frequent trips to the little mommie's room.

I knew I must be starting to come out of it when I started getting cranky last week about feeling like a giant lump all the time. Up until then, I was a carefree and happy lump. Lately I've been able to get through the day without absolutely having to put my head down and catch some Zs. I've even had the urge to blog more. Things are definitely looking up.

On the flip side of things, my belly seems to be poofing out - a little early if you ask me. Jeans have been problematic, as is anything that is designed to fasten securely around one's waistline. Considering this is my first pregnancy, I assumed I'd glide blissfully into my second trimester before I'd have to stock up on those lovely stretchy maternity pants. Silly me! When my last pair of tolerably comfortable pants started feeling a bit too constrictive yesterday, I figured it was time. I made a mad dash to the store and grabbed a couple pairs of maternity jeans and khakis (all on clearance! saved 50%! Whoo-hoo!).

All along I've been holding my breath (figuratively, of course) waiting to get to twelve weeks. That seemed like the magic number where I could relax a little and stop worrying about a miscarriage. Yet I'm still a little on edge until we get to our next doctor's appointment next week. I'm hoping we'll be able to hear the heartbeat - then I will relax a bit. I know, I worry too much. Part of me just still doesn't believe this is all for real. It was so clear and powerful when we first got the news, but lately it's been a little less believable. I'm not sure if it's my fear or just my mental shutdown that's the cause of it.

It dawned on me last night that by the end of next month I will probably feel the baby move. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this, the idea has me pretty freaked out. I know it happens, it's supposed to happen! But I'm pretty sure I'm either going to go into shock or cry for an hour when it does. (Mr. F, stand by with the tissues, this is going to be a doozy!) I can't explain why, nor can I explain or understand many of the thoughts and emotions that run through my heart these days. It's all just very primal and strange. It's a bit of a wonderland, really.

Samia at Redneck's Wife just started on the journey to Mommydom right after me, and it's been so neat to check her blog and hear how she's doing. Meanwhile somewhere in the world Jane Missionary is in labor today, and I find myself on pins and needles waiting to hear the big news. My thoughts and prayers are with her and Joe and Junior.

For someone who never dreamed that one day she'd be in this position, it's all been very surreal so far: nothing like I expected, but far better than I ever could have hoped.

God is good.

Sick Beyond Belief

I can understand there are people in the world like Scott Peterson. What I cannot comprehend is that there are women stupid enough to want to marry him. According to CNN, there are at least two who have made the offer.

Explain this to me. A man is convicted, convicted of murdering his wife and unborn child in cold blood and dumping her body in San Francisco bay. All the while prior to this he was having an affair. What kind of sick, hurting puppy must you be to decide "Hey, he's the man for me!"

I've known women who have gotten themselves into and remained deeply entrenched in abusive relationships with bad men. I've seen it and I've lived it, but for the life of me I still don't understand it. It is deeply alarming to me how many women today pick up with any guy, just to have a guy. For many years now I've been of the firm belief that there are worse things than being alone. I should know, I once dated a few of them.

In the spiritual sense, I understand that as water runs to the lowest point, people will go to any lengths and depths to try to fill the holes in their spirits. That proverbial God-shaped piece missing in the puzzles of our hearts gets stuffed with all sorts of unsatisfying things - careers, material things, alcohol, drugs, and other human relationships. We so often make the mistake of trying to make any human relationship, not just those of a romantic nature, a substitute for the love and assurance that we can only get from God. That I understand. We've all done it at one point or another.

But to willingly throw oneself at an adulterer and convicted wife murderer? Do these women have a death wish? Is celebrity, in any form, that powerful to attract? Or is it the "bad boy" type attraction? Or is it the desire to rescue the one with the broken wing type syndrome - the need of some women to "fix up" a piece of damaged goods? From my observation, the "broken wing" scenario seems to be the most effective at luring women into and keeping them trapped in emotionally and often physically damaging situations.

These women need help, and I certainly hope the officials at San Quentin protect them from themselves by denying any and all such matrimonial requests. This sort of thing should be nipped in the bud and pronto. *Shudder!*

Thursday, March 17, 2005

In Honor of the Day

Long ago when I was going to make my first communion, my mother taught me the Lord's prayer in Irish Gaelic. For days and weeks I practiced and practiced the strange words and sounds, and I was so proud of myself when I finally got it down pat. But sure and begarah, wouldn't you know I went and forgot it all? What a pity!

I had to scour the Web a bit, but I finally found this version.

Ár n-athair, atá ar neamh: go naofar d'ainm.
Go dtaga do riocht.
Go ndéantar do thoil ar an talamh,
mar dhéantar ar neamh.
Ár n-arán laethiúl tabhair dúinn inniu,
agus maith dúinn ár bhfiacha,
mar mhaithimid dár bhféichiúnaithe féin.
Agus ná lig sinn i gcathú,
ach saor sinn ó olc.
Óir is leatsa an Ríocht agus an Chumhacht
agus an Ghloir, tré shaol na saol.

(Courtesy of Christusrex.org)

Maybe this will spur me to relearn it and commit it to my long term memory this time?

Falling Away?

I started to write this as a comment on Messy Christian's post about the "Great Falling Away" from the faith that is prophesied in the Bible. Also starting writing in response to another comment from Joe Missionary, whom I don't know personally, but through his blog and his dear wife Jane's comments I've come to consider as a trustworthy friend and brother. I don't take issue with Joe or what he said, but his comments did fuel my fire somewhat.

What follows is a bit of a rant, unedited, unrefined, and unchecked. If I stop to fix it up as I go, I probably won't post it, so I'm letting loose instead. It may help to ready MC's original post for context, because I didn't bother to pretty this up much. Gentle reader, proceed at your own risk.

I was terrified that by leaving my old church, that I would become one of the many multitudes of the "great falling away". I worried that I already was falling away, because everything in me wanted to bolt from the church. It did quite a number on me and it took all the grace God could give me to convince me otherwise.

I wish that what Joe says about there being good churches in the US was true. Maybe it is true somewhere else, but there's little evidence to support that claim around these parts. Don't get me wrong, there are good people, very well-meaning people, and they're trying very hard - but the church is failing. We're drinking from broken cisterns over here. Some of us tried to make a change. Some of us tried to speak up and speak out. It fell on deaf ears. What then?

In his comment over at MC's post, Joe speaks of the danger of spiritual erosion that results when we remain without fellowship, I agree, and I've experienced it. This I fear too. But if God could feed Elijah in the wilderness, He can keep some of us who have fled into our own wilderness. He will also be firm enough to let us know when it's time to get our bottoms back to Jerusalem. He also sends friends who sharpen us and challenge us to live what we say we believe. I'm fortunate in this, that He has not left me without witnesses and strong friends.

For my own part, I'm tired of fighting, I don't want to fight anymore. I'm tired of trying to make the change. I go to churches around here and see and hear ridiculous things being done and preached, and I leave more depressed than ever. I'm afraid I'll encounter another bad situation that I can do little to stop. Within my own family there are troubles enough.

Big personal disclosure time: what follows is a very touchy personal subject.

I have family members that are still heavily involved in various churches. Two are forsaking their family in their never-ending "Purpose Driven" Pursuit of excellence. They don't come to birthday parties and they skip family events, but boy they're at church for every PDL meeting! I have another family member involved in a cultic denomination that preaches some pretty gross errors. There is so much division in my own family, among my own flesh and blood about all of this. I can't escape it at home, why do I want more of it in church??

I'm tired of fighting all the time, tired of the tension, tired of the walls that have gone up among us. I can't even fellowship with half my family who claim to be believers!! What the heck is wrong with us when there is so much division and striving even at the family level? Is it just my family? No, I think it's representative of the church at large. We're all so busy trying to be great for God, but we're being total jerks to one another. How is that right?? Read Isaiah 58 if you wonder what God thinks of it.

Sorry to get off on a rant here. I'm just so tired some days, so heartsick about all of it. I'm sure I'm not the only one facing such things, some days I forget that.

I'm pretty sure church was a mess even way back when the twelve first started out. I don't think it was ever supposed to be perfect. There is only One who ever achieved that. Perhaps that is the mistake we are making today with all our movements and building projects. We are trying to perfect an institution that was only ever meant to be temporary at best.

David endeavored to build God a glorious temple. Maybe his heart was in the right place, maybe he had the best of intentions. But you know what? Even though it was finished by Solomon and blessed with God's presence, that temple fell. God allowed it to fall. Why? Because He knows that we need to be reminded that everything in this life is temporary, transitory, flawed, and failing. Only God, His love in and His word in our hearts endures.

Perhaps the "temple" that is the church in America must fall again before we all start seeking God in earnest, because of Who He Is, because He is worthy to be longed for and sought after. Quite frankly, and this is by no means a slam against anyone here, we need Him a whole heck of a lot more than we need each other. He has graciously given us one another as companions on the journey, but let's not forget who or what our Chief hope is.

Are there some people who are never going to be happy because the music isn't to their liking, or the pews are too hard, or the preaching too long? Yeah, that's been going on for time immemorial. We have all been that person at one time or another, maybe we don't like to admit it. But then hopefully too we have had that moment when the raw power, enormity and utter magnitude that is the love of the Lord has seized our hearts and set them aflame. Then we don't notice the music, we don't feel the pew and the preaching's just words upon meaningless words.

To any and all who have ever known the overshadowing of the presence of God, who have realized His great love and mercy toward us, I have bad news:

You will never be completely satisfied in church this side of Heaven, because you are not meant to be.

The desire for God and His presence should only grow and magnify in our hearts. If even Solomon's temple itself were to be rebuilt and perfected in all of its glory, it is would still just be a shadow of what is to come, a crude imperfect and myopic picture of the Lord's glorious presence. Even given the sweetest music, the most learned and erudite preaching, it would still be lacking because it is not the fullness of the presence and glory of the Lord.

* * *

Oh I am feeble now, and all my faults are manifest. Put me in church and I'll stink up the place for sure, I have no doubts about that, and I try therefore not to hold it so strongly against others when they do the same - they too are human and can do nothing else. "The stable is clean where no oxen are," it says in Proverbs.

But what if we stopped trying to erect some monument to our faith, some undeniable proof of our own godliness? It seems this is all we try to do in church these days - prove our devotion, prove our faithfulness, prove our zealousness. Cain worked so very hard in the garden - it must have been back breaking and endless work to grow and harvest that beautiful crop of produce that he proudly offered to God. And yet Abel must have watched his brother's work those long weeks and despaired that he had nothing of his own to offer to God, nothing that God hadn't given Abel already from His own hand.

If we all admitted that despite the Lord's influence, we can continue to be stinky rotten people who make messes, then maybe we'd get somewhere. If we concerned ourselves more with esteeming Lord Himself than esteeming ourselves and our gifts or ministries, perhaps we'd hit traction again. Maybe if we stopped expecting God to bless us for all the wonderful things we do for Him, we would find out that He blesses us because of Who He Is, because He's That Kind of God. Then we'd have nothing to do but fall on our faces and worship Him, because He's wonderful and He loves us in the most unthinkable, unimaginable ways.

Seeing this, how could we fall away? How could you do anything but cast ourselves and our whole lives upon the hope and belief that this God is everything we ever needed, One we could cling to in the face of losing everything else that we hold dear?

To whom else would you turn, and where else would you go?

I ask you?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm in My Right and Left Mind

Much to my suprise, I am only slightly more right-brained than left-brained, if you go by these two online tests. Had I taken these when I was younger, I bet they would have come out much more right-brained. I'm not quite the impulsive risk-taker that I used to be! :)

Brain Lateralization Test Results
Right Brain (48%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain.
Left Brain (42%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain
Are You Right or Left Brained?
personality tests by similarminds.com

You Are 45% Left Brained, 55% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning. Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others. If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic. Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility. Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way. If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art. Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Hat Tip: Messy Christian

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Tales From the Chronically Snowbound

Still Snowing
Originally uploaded by Feeble Knees.
This is the view around here as of noontime today. The snow is due to continue for another three hours or so, they're calling for up to a foot total accumulation. Possibly more snow on Tuesday.

It's been a while since we've had a winter quite like this one.

It's not that uncommon for us to get late season storms, but usually it's warm enough that the snow melts pretty quickly and it gets back down to bare ground again. Not so this year, there's been a good six to ten inches or more on the ground for weeks now, which just helps keep the air colder.

We're resigned to being house-bound for today anyway. I've been poring over baby name books, which have provided no end of entertainment. I purposefully call out silly and over-the-top names like "Morpheus" and "Agamemnon" just to see Mr. F's reaction. The name situation is looking pretty grim so far. Good thing we have about six more months or so to get our acts together.

Meanwhile, Joe and Jane Missionary have their name all picked out and ready to go, they're just waiting for their new little girl to make her arrival. The Feeble Family is praying for them all & asking the Lord to watch over and help Jane and baby (aka "Shorty") during labor and delivery. I'll be thinking of you Jane!

Several issues have gotten me all riled up in the last two days, but before I could get worked up enough to blog about it, exhaustion hit and I was forced to take a nap instead. There is one big blessing to this first-trimester fatigue: I'm too tired to get worked up about anything for too long - the energy just isn't there! This may make for a nice and mellow mama, but also a pretty boring blogger! ;-)

Yesterday my Mom called, and she sounded really down. Too many people in difficult situations have been coming to her with all their woes and cares, and she was getting so bogged down in all of it. I felt so bad, having been there before and knowing what a tailspin you can get yourself into when all the news just seems bad, bad, bad, but at the same time no one wants to hear the Good News. She'd been trying to reach certain folks with the love of the Lord, but it was all just falling on deaf ears. She was discouraged, feeling frustrated and desperate. Boy can I name that tune.

"Tell me a funny story, please!" she begged. "Uh..." I scrambled to think of something to cheer her up. Lately just talking about the baby is enough to completely brighten her mood. It's like a magic tonic for her, and it's done wonders for our relationship lately. I tell her about what I'm craving, how many times I have to get up in the middle of the night, and all the little details that just seem to thrill her to no end.

"Well," I said solemnly, "I learned a very important lesson yesterday."
"Yes, very important," I continued. "That lesson is that there are some foods that ought never to be consumed in one sitting, no matter how appetizing it may seem at the time."
"Oh no, pickles and ice cream?" she laughed.
"Worse than that. Yesterday for lunch, I had, in this order, Orange Essence™ Sunsweet Pitted Prunes, seven of them; an egg salad sandwich, and a Jello® fat-free chocolate pudding!"
[she laughs in horror in disbelief]
"Let me just tell you Mom, you never, ever want to burp up chocolate-prune-egg salad."

Well it might not have solved all the problems of the day, or lifted all the burdens off her shoulders. But the laughter broke the gloom and lightened things for her a little bit. So if my frightful case of indigestion paved the way for mom's comic relief, well then hey, it was worth it.

But I won't ever, ever, be so indiscriminate at mealtime again!

A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine... Proverbs 17:22

Friday, March 11, 2005

Feeling Defiant

That loud cracking sound you hear is the sound of Feeble's brain separating from all logic and reason.

I'm flying the coop! Like a shell-shocked combatant who flips out and starts running toward the gunfire, I've decided to throw all caution to the wind.

I am going out in the snow today. Forecasts and predicted snowfall amounts be damned!

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in snowstorms, we shall fight on the sidewalks and highways, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our right to move about freely, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the backroads, we shall fight on the onramps, we shall fight in the mall parking lots and in the streets, we shall fight on the steep hills;

We shall never surrender!*

Another 10" of snow eh? EH?


[cue: maniacal laughter]

*(With apologies to Winston Churchill)

** Confidentially to Mr. F: I'll be careful...I promise...

Still Time Left to Help Out

If you haven't done so yet, there's still time to help Michelle collect the funds needed to cover her airfare to visit her terminally ill mom.

Over $265 USD has been collected for Michelle over at Been There, Still There. Considering that the conversion rate is something like 5.90 South African Rand to one US dollar, that's good news indeed! If you haven't had a chance yet, please visit Laura's blog and clicky-click on the PayPal button in the upper right corner if you'd like to donate. Every dollar counts. Even ten US dollars translates into fifty-plus South African Rand! There's about a week left before Michelle has to make the final payment on the tickets (I believe the due date is March 17th?) If you could help, it would mean so much.

Michelle was recently blessed by an unexpected gift that was given to her at work. I am just so thrilled about that, and about the generosity of everyone in blogland who chipped in to help. This is what it's all about people!

If you can't give monetarily, please give in prayer that her needs will be met, and that God will provide for and protect Michelle and her son as they travel. Pray also too for their time with their family, and pray especially for Michelle's Mom.

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:15-17

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I tried to post this yesterday, but Blogger was having fits. Michelle writes today that she received an anonymous thousand dollar donation! WOWEE! This is just absolutely wonderful news! I'm not sure what the total amount of funds raised is now, or how much more is needed - possibly a few more hundred? (by my guesstimate!)

I'm just so thrilled for Michelle. She truly took a leap of faith by booking the tickets, I'm overjoyed at how it's all working out for her! Praise God!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More of the Same

Well we survived the latest storm. Mr. F finally made it home around 8 pm last night, the roads were awful. It's bitterly cold and now we have another big storm to look forward to this weekend.

Lord have mercy!

I should have invested in some snow shoes or something, at least I could actually make use of all the white stuff. Skiing's right out - even if I weren't pregnant, the idea has never appealed to me. Slap two sticks on your feet, get dragged up a mountain then try not to get killed on the way down. Not being the most graceful of people, I am sure I have spared the lives of many innocent by-skiers by not taking up the sport.

We could make a few platoons of snowmen. Maybe a snow fort or two. Or three. It might be a little late, but perhaps we could make some money by building our own Ice Hotel in the back yard. How much would you pay to sleep on a block of ice for a night? I thought so.

If this next storm does hit Friday night, I think we're going to have to fight back. I'll crank up the thermostat, put on some Reggae music, fill up the kiddie pool in the middle of the kitchen and make some virgin daiquiris. We'll put little Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts on the cats. They'll *love* that, I'm sure.

Anybody else got some ideas on how to beat the never-ending winter blues?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

More Snow

If there are daffodils blooming and warm breezes blowing where you are, please don't tell me.

It's snowing here. Again. Currently I'm sitting here typing to keep my nerves together while I wait for Mr. F to make it home safe and sound from work. It's going to be a long wait.

What started out as heavy rain this morning (what a wonderful sight, to have real, honest-to-goodness RAIN for once!) turned into very heavy snow around two o'clock this afternoon. The winds are gusting, blowing the snow sideways. There'll be yet another 6-10 inches on the ground before all is said and done. There's a good four inches on the ground already and the roads are a mess. I'm hoping Mr. F is able to get home within an hour's time, but the traffic reports are not encouraging. Looks more like it could be an hour and then some. Poor Mr. F!

It really is getting ridiculous around here. Last week we got two storms totaling around 6 inches or more. This week we're faring no better. It's times like this I kick myself for settling in the notorious snow belt known as "North and West of Boston". If Boston gets an inch or two of snow, we get six to eight. It's been this way my whole life. Why do I live here again?

Anybody else remembers what happens to the Torrance family in the Shining? Heeeeeeere's Feeeeeble! Somebody hide the knives!

Ok, it's not that drastic, not by a longshot. But you do start to lose your mind after a bit. The worst part is hearing from folks in other parts of the country who are already enjoying spring flowers, green grass and leaves on trees. If such things exist within the geographical confines of the country in which I live, I don't want to know about it, okay?

While my rational mind understands that the good Lord created this beautiful world we live in, and it is indeed good, my patience really runs thin with His climate & weather pattern designs. I understand snow has a very beneficial purpose, namely to keep plants, shrubs and tree roots insulated and hydrated during the bitterly cold and dry winter months. My logical mind understands and in my better moments accepts that. But right now I'm having a hard time seeing a single blessed thing that is good about snow in March!

Around here we always say that if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb - meaning that ferocious weather in the early part of the month eventually gives way to more tranquil, springlike weather in the later half. Of course even so, it can and has been known to snow in May around here. Maybe spring is eventually on the way, but I'm not holding my breath.

Checking the weather for the rest of the week: another "significant snow event" is due this weekend. Oh joy, joy. At least Major League Baseball's spring training has begun. I can pull all the blinds to shut out the wintry wildness outside and gaze longingly at emerald beauty of City of Palms Park as my beloved boys of summer take to the field.

Just a few more weeks 'til spring, just a few more weeks 'til spring...

UPDATE: He left at 6:30. It's now 7:16 and he just called to say where he was en route. From the sounds of it, tt may be 8 or 8:30 before he gets home. :(

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mr. F is the Best Husband In the World

There are already endless reasons why Mr. F is the best husband a girl could ever have. But every once in a while he comes up with something new.

While I sat here typing away on the blog, he very quietly emptied the dishwasher, did all the dishes, then made me breakfast - but not just any breakfast. He just made the best homemade strawberry waffles you have ever tasted. And I got the first one hot off the waffle iron.

I'm not worthy...

Answers to Messy Christian's Interview Questions

Oh Goody, Messy Christian added me to her list of interviewees. Very Exciting! Seeing as I've been having a hard time motivating myself to blog lately, this is just the kick I needed. Here are her questions:

  1. What do you get most out of blogging?
  2. You say that you're a techie person - what is your favourite gadget and why?
  3. What is one topic that will get you steamed up when people bring it up?
  4. You're having a baby! What names are you considering?
  5. Tell us about the place you live - the climate, the attractions, the quirks!
Read on for the answers. Warning, they're pretty long!

What do you get most out of blogging?

Initially, the biggest thing I got out of blogging was release - finally getting an opportunity to talk about things that have haunted me for several years. I wrote a lot about experiences in my former church, and it felt so good to finally get out. I wrote about things I hadn't admitted to anyone else, and this was very freeing. It also helped open a dialog with my husband about much of the stuff I'd been through, which until then he only seen fleeting glimpses. Once I started writing these things out in the open, I really think a huge amount of healing and closure finally began to happen. It was a huge thing, and a timely thing. I would be remiss if I didn't give Messy Christian props for encouraging me to take the step to start my own blog. I'd been spending lots of time at her blog, reading through similar experiences that she had. She inspired me to do the same, and I'm really thankful for that.

Since I started in November, I've had the fantastic opportunity to hear from and start to get to know some other wonderful folks out there who have been so kind and supportive. They're like my 'virtual church', at least I think of them that way. I love to read what they're up to, what they're struggling with or rejoicing over. Maybe virtual blog fellowshipping doesn't replace the real thing, but in some ways I think (some, maybe not all) bloggers do fellowship better! :)

what is your favourite gadget and why?

Hm, this one is probably a tie between my Macintosh PowerBook G3 and my iPod mini. Yes, we are Apple fanatics in the Feeble household, but let me tell you why. I spent about ten years in hi-tech working as a technical writer. My job entailed taking complex products (hardware and software) and writing all the lovely how-to instructions, troubleshooting guides, verification tests, release notes, and online help. I spent hours writing about products that were ill conceived, poorly designed, difficult to use, poorly constructed or incomplete. I once spent an hour arguing with an engineer about why it's probably not a good idea to leave two active options on a menu when they don't do anything. (To meet the ship date, those two particular commands weren't going to be finished. But he thought it was ok to leave the options on the menu, even though it would undoubtedly result in a zillion bug reports when users would invariably select the options, only to find nothing happens when they do.)

When a product was particularly hard to understand or use, the burden fell on documentation to explain it without bringing attention to the fact that the product had an obvious flaw or poor design. This is harder to do than you might think. Sometimes it couldn't be helped.

I did my best all the time to advocate for the user in my writing and in design meetings where I'd occasionally get a chance to point out potential difficulties with products. Sometimes what I had to say fell on deaf ears, sometimes it made a difference. As the years went on and I encountered both really bad software and really good software, I became convinced that a large majority of the computer industry was letting down its customer by selling inferior products at exorbitant prices and blaming the customer when he or she couldn't understand it or make it work. (This is especially true of enterprise software, but that's a rant for another day.) It's not fair, and I get pretty hepped up about it.

So about six years ago Mr. F (himself a software engineer) heard that Apple was developing a new operating system based on Linux. This got his attention and he was intrigued. After reading more about it, he decided to buy a G3 PowerBook in anticipation of the release of "OS X", as it is commonly called in shorthand. He got hooked. It was a big topic of conversation when we first met and started dating, about how everything in OS X just worked, and how elegant it was. Eventually Mr. F passed the PowerBook on to me, and it became my personal machine. After slogging through using Windows from version 3.1.1 to 95 to NT to XP, this was like a dream. It didn't crash. I could just plug in printers, a mouse, a scanner, and it just worked. No searching the web for and downloading drivers. No futzing around. No forced reboots. No viruses! (I still remember the entire weekend spent resurrecting my PC after getting hit by a Nimda variant. Luckily I was able to save most my data to an external drive before having to reformat the bugger and reinstall everything from scratch Grr.)

Once I got a quick tour of where everything was in OS X, it just made sense, it was intuitive to use. There was no pain or aggravation involved. I became a convert and a Mac devotee.

Last year Mr. F bought me an adorable 4GB gold iPod mini for my birthday. It doesn't have the capacity of his 40 GB iPod, but it's enough for me. After all, threw out most of my CD's in the mid-nineties because I'd signed a pledge when I became a member of my church that I wouldn't listen to secular music. I've been gradually rebuilding an eclectic collection of jazz, classical, folk, rock and alternative music via iTunes (which I believe is the best online music store out there, just my HO). I've filled up my mini iPod with great tunes that take me back to my childhood, inspire peaceful reveries, and give me a mental kick in the butt when I need to get jumpstarted on a project. I love the thing, I love its simplicity, its elegance, and its performance. Again, I could go on and on...

We are considering getting me an upgrade, because the six year old G3 has been a little under the weather as of late. We're considering either refurbished G5 iMac or a refurbished G4 14" iBook. I'm leaning toward the G5, but I'm still undecided. I just don't want to give up my lovely old G3!

What is one topic that will get you steamed up when people bring it up?

Oooh, there are so many! How on earth do I pick just one? LOL

Seriously. I have a big problem with false prophets and healers. Nothing will get me angrier faster than to see an obvious phony manipulating and deceiving an innocent believer.

Four years ago a friend died after two bone marrow transplants to treat aplastic anemia. Her physical struggle was only half her battle. She had to battle the anger, confusion and disappointment in God after the healing that a traveling evangelist promised her never materialized. I remember watching the man pray for her in our church, watching our pastors and the congregation. I remember the desperate, earnest prayers of this girl and her family. I remember that man standing there and lying in the name of God. I'll never forget it. They all believed him at his word. Shortly after that her condition worsened. She went into the hospital for her first bone marrow transplant. After being brought to the point of death, there was the slightest margin of hope. After months of isolation, she came home for a little bit. But she developed graft vs. host disease, meaning the graft failed. Then she had to go back in. Another transplant was scheduled, more massive doses of radiation were given and she hovered on the brink. That was in August. It was months of struggle after that.

I still have all the emails she sent me from the hospital. "Why is this happening to me?" "Why won't God heal me? Does He hate me? He must hate me to put me through this!" "I don't want to die!" I have the transcripts of instant messenger sessions where her mom frantically pleaded for blood donors to come and donate blood and platelets because her daughter was bleeding to death and the blood bank was running out of blood for her. I remember sitting shivering under blankets as the blood ran out of one arm, through a filtration device that collected my platelets, then back into the other. I remember blowing a vein, and feeling so terrible, like I'd let my friend down, feeling so helpless and crying. I remember sitting there in the hospital hating that man that prayed over my friend, who so carelessly proclaimed her healing. I prayed that somehow word would get to him that he had been wrong. But I knew it wouldn't.

Four years ago last week my friend finally went home to Jesus. No one will ever know the full story of her physical and spiritual battles that raged in an isolation chamber in a Boston hospital, of what was almost lost.

She is whole now. Now she is with Jesus forever, and her faith in Him will never again be shaken. She will never again doubt His love, or wonder whether He has abandoned her. She will never cower or cry in fear that she must have done something to bring His wrath upon her. She now knows face to face the Truth who set her free. No one will ever deceive her again. She is safe in the everlasting arms of her Lord.

Because of my friend and the pain and suffering she needlessly endured, the attack on her faith, I can never, ever allow a false prophet or healer go unchallenged. It's become a sort of personal mission to expose them when friends or family are in danger of being deceived. I understand today why false prophets were stoned to death in the Old Testament. To me, it speaks of how tremendous God's anger is at those who deceive weak and struggling ones like my friend.

You're having a baby! What names are you considering? ;)

You know it's been really hard to choose! We're having a very tough time with boys' names, so Murphy's law dictates that we'll probably have a boy and no name for him! Neither of us like fad names or "soap opera" names as we call them. We tend to be more traditional. I also feel strongly that a child should have a name they can grow into, one that will be dignified when they are fifty.

While we haven't really picked any yet, strong candidates include names like Charlotte, Veronica, Violet, Claire, Ann, Sarah and Norah. We like Paige, but unfortunately that's become a little too popular thanks to Paige Davis of TLC's Trading Spaces fame.

After the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years back in October, we considered calling our firstborn son "Jason Curt David Derek Pedro Tim Bronson Keith Mike Alan Manny Trot Johnny Mark Orlando Bill Pokey Kevin Doug Gabe Roberts Ramiro Theo Larry Tom John Henry", but figured that might not all fit on the birth certificate. ;-)

Seriously, we haven't settled on a boy's name yet. Any suggestions?

Tell us about the place you live

I live in Massachusetts, a state reviled by many for various and sundry reasons. It's a strange place to be, and had I not been born here perhaps I wouldn't live here either. Geographically speaking, it has a lot to offer. I could hop in the car and in one to three hours be at the seashore or on a mountain or in downtown Boston. In less than thirty minutes from here is Lexington green, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, and Concord where the minutemen engaged in guerrilla tactics against the British. On my way to work I used to walk by the spot where Bostonians dumped tea into the harbor to protest taxation. This place is really the cradle of American history, and I love being so close to so many historic places.

We usually do not have earthquakes (well, at least not big ones). There are no tornadoes. Generally speaking, there's no really dangerous wildlife or poisonous bugs or snakes, which is always a plus in my book. Usually we do not get hit by hurricanes, though there have been some rare exceptions to this. OK, we can get a lot of snow. It snowed in excess of six inches twice last week, and that's getting pretty depressing. Snow is nice in December and January, but you get pretty sick of it by March. Oh, and it's been stupidly cold too, and stubbornly so. What I wouldn't give for a nice 40 degree Fahrenheit (8C) day! Hopefully by May the leaves will be out on the trees and we'll be enjoying some springlike weather. But you never know how it's going to go here. Sometimes it's 90 degrees F in April. Then it snows the first week in May. There's a saying here that if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute and it'll change. We prepare for anything.

Ideologically and politically, I am definitely the square peg in the round hole that is Massachusetts. It's notoriously liberal in every sense of the word. Thanks to the questionable doings of our state legislature, next year every Massachusetts voter will be faced with the decision to either a)approve of gay marriage or b)approve gay civil unions. The fact that the ballot question is being tailored in such a way that you cannot protest either one of these options if your conscience so dictates. If you don't vote, you're essentially condoning the legalization of gay marriage. If you vote for civil unions, you're still endorsing the legal recognition of behavior that as a Christian, you may or may not believe is sinful. More than the issue itself, I'm pretty upset at the way our representatives crafted this "legal compromise".

I've been pretty frustrated by a lot that goes on here politically. I never miss an election or a chance to have my say at the ballot box. While we may be considered liberal by most Red Stater's standards, we're pretty darn conservative by Massachusetts standards. There are a lot of people (most of my family included) who've left the state because of its high taxes and liberal philosophy, and they'll never come back. They usually flee north to New Hampshire, where they can buy cheaper houses and shop sales-tax free, but still commute to high-paying tech jobs in and around greater Boston.

Why do I stay here? Well, there's emotional attachment. I grew up here, it's familiar. I love everything that's available here - beaches, mountains, cities, museums, colleges (more per square mile than just about anyplace else), the best hospitals in the world, theatre, music, and lots of ethnic diversity. Messy Christian will be happy to know that along with all the Thai, Japanese, Cantonese, Szechuan, Indian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Afghani, and Korean restaurants, that I have found at least one Malaysian restaurant so far in Cambridge, MA. So if she ever does get a chance to come visit, she'll be able to get some home cookin' ;-)

As a technical writer, there is still more job opportunities here than in neighboring states. For a while I made a good living working at several hi-tech firms in the area. The salaries were fantastic here, probably only companies in California paid comparably or higher than Massachusetts firms. When the tech bubble burst just after 9/11 though, many of us got laid off and times were pretty hard. Still, I stayed. Where else was I going to go? I was fortunate to have savings that augmented the unemployment checks that eventually ran out. I was even more fortunate to pick up temporary work three months after my layoff. Then that company folded, and it was another nine months of job hunting before something else came up. I think a lot of people left after that - left the state and left hi-tech. Mr. F was very fortunate and landed a new job pretty quickly after getting laid off briefly before we were married, but he's been steadily employed since then. For the most part, we are realistic about the fact that this really is the best place for us work-wise unless we wanted to relocate to Silicon valley (or Cupertino!), which neither of us want to do. We considered Seattle and the Pacific Northwest very briefly, but we decided we didn't ever want to take a chance that our kids might not grow up to be Red Sox fans.

(See, I didn't even go into our TWO, count 'em TWO champion sports teams - the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. Man, it's a good time to be alive! ;)

When retirement age comes, or if public school policy becomes too ridiculous around here we may head for the hills of New Hampshire. We talk about it, but right now we're settled in a good house with a nice yard not too far from the NH border. We're grateful.

Wow, ok that was a bit more long-winded than I'd planned. I better post this thing or I'll keep adding to it. So much for being short and sweet! :)

Want to be Interviewed?

If you'd like me to interview you, post a comment below and I'll visit your blog. Then I will post five questions for you here at Feeble Knees. Answer the questions in a post on your own blog and link back to the question post. It's fun.

Thanks again to Messy Christian for taking the time to come up with some thought provoking questions. I didn't realize I'd go on for so long answering each!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Vivid Dream of the Old Church

Early this morning in my dreams I was standing before the entire congregation of my entire church, shouting at them and giving them a Word from the Lord.

It was quite over-the-top, and I was shaking. It was so vivid, I could almost smell the air in the sanctuary. Everyone reacted precisely as they would. My voice was strong and rang out through the hall, it was otherworldly. I still remember verbatim what I said. In the end the people left, including my former pastor, and I was left alone in the front pew, spent but praying, and remained there all night until morning. When the dawn came I saw the congregation all standing around outside, silent, waiting.

Waiting for what?

It's kind of freaking me out.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Help a Sister Out

Imagine if you were thousands of miles away when you get the news that your mom is dying of cancer. What would you do?

This situation is all too real for Michelle at Seeking Serenity. Back in early February Michelle learned her mom has inoperable liver cancer. She and her son are living in South Africa, but her parents are in Australia. Recently she got word from her Dad, asking her to come soon during the March holidays.

Laura at Been There, Still There has started a PayPal account on Michelle's behalf to help defray the cost of her traveling expeneses so she and her son can go be with her Mom. Michelle has been trying unsuccessfully to immigrate to Australia for some time, now it is ever so much more important that she get to see her mom, even if it's just for a brief visit.

If you are so moved, please visit Been There, Still There and contribute what you can. I trust Laura, and believe this is all on the up-and-up.

Most importantly of all, please remember to keep Michelle, her son and her folks in your prayers.