Monday, July 31, 2006

my new personal trainer

Occasionally, kks takes an interest in my workout habits. Mostly she wants to play with the treadmill, the weights, or the funky abdominal apparatus. Today she took on a new role.

Gesturing toward the ez curl bar she said, "Okay, here, play with this."

I completed a set of 10 curls.

"Okay, here, play with this," she said pointing to the dumbbells.

To think I would have ever spent money on a personal trainer. Kks will help me just fine...

Kks is becoming more in touch with her inner boss. The dog does not always cooperate...this new sibling live with high expectations.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Humbled by grace

This morning in the midst of some prayer and study time an old patriarch (Mr. B) of the congregation came for a visit to talk about some outreach possibilities to consider. After that exchange, he inquired about kks. He was one of the first people outside of close family and friends to find out about kks and her developmental struggles. Mr. B only found out because the Sunday after we learned about the magnitude of her struggles, I was trying to keep it together enough to preach a sermon. I also knew that Mr. B prayed, and that if I told him what was on my mind and heart that he would truly pray for kks. Nearly two months have passed since I told Mr. B about the situation, while I struggled to fight back tears. Today I told him about current strides and frustrations, and he reminded me to be patient.

Good reminder for me.

I also told Mr. B about anxiety and hope related to our upcoming evaluations at the University of Minnesota. He asked about the evaluations and the specific dates. He wanted the dates so that he could pray specifically about and on those dates.

Specific dates????????

My episodic indignation with congregational life establishes the building blocks for me to be a cranky old man. (One good thing about that indignation, I will at least be less likely to talk about "the good old days." In my mind, they don't exist.) However, there are times when I am so moved by the grace of God that congregational indignation falls into the background of my thoughts. Currently I live my life as a pastor, one called to hold up the community of faith in prayer, and I could not live the prayer life of Mr. B. I do at times, but I am not wired like this man. This humbled by grace event does not surprise me. I believe in the ability of the people of God and the Holy Spirit to move the church far more than I believe in the clergy. If anything, I/we hold back the Church. Mr. B provided another example of what is possible in God. Today, if but only for a moment, I am healed. I thanked Mr. B, and we wished each other well.

Another God moment came after I sat down to pick up where I left off with my reading. I was in the middle of Philippians chapter 4, no ordinary reading in my faith life. The first pastor I ever really knew used to close every sermon with Philippians 4:7. My faith in the power of God as a child centered on that passage. It connected my life experience to a faith passed passed on from generation to generation, over thousands of years. Few passages in the Bible offer me comfort, but this one does, and sometimes I take this word for granted. Not today.

Here is the section of Philippians I was reading when Mr. B came in:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I spoke of my worries and hopes today, and someone who offered to pray for me and my family guarded my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Neither my indignation, nor my anxiety will rule the day, nor will they consume me. The peace of God which surpasses all understanding serendipitously came through my door, and I had enough of God's wisdom today to recognize it.

May God's peace come through your door today as well.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Suburban Girl spent

Thursday converged on Suburban Girl with a wrath we could have predicted. Unfortunately, she was not well equipped for the day because she woke up at 5:30 am.

9 am Vacation Bible School
11 am Kindermusic
1230 pm Preschool
5 pm Swimming Lesson
7 pm Vacation Bible School Program

The Vacation Bible School Kids sang the songs they learned, about half of the 146 participants stood up in front of the congregational audience, sharing an enthusiastic effort. Kks gladly went up with her mates, but had nothing left in the tank. She sat nicely and watched her classmates sing with some curiosity, with intermittent head bobbing. I longed for her to sing for a few reasons--first, I wanted to know if music holds a key for her communication growth; second, I wanted to capture some video of her participation. The poor girl was exhausted. I knew she knew the songs, she's been singing them all week. My wonderful wife looked at me and said, "at least she's being good up there."

My wife and I will not back away from certain activities because we know the benefits for Kks' growth. The convergence of these activities taxed our little girl beyond her abilities on Thursday. We continue the search for activities that profoundly stimulate her growth. We have found activities she enjoys--we work to find the appropriate balance of growth and health.

Monday, July 10, 2006

First day of Vacation Bible School

Kks has adjusted to attending events at the congregation I serve. Most weeks of her life involve participating in the life of her mother's congregation. I like that she comes to work with me--this week Vacation Bible School allows us more time to connect. Surrounded by many levels of hubbub upon entering the church, kks grabbed my hand without my directive (a rare occurrence--I love it when she does that). A woman who knows kks took her hand and they walked to where she needed to be when the day's activities began.

After a morning with doctors and nurses addressing the womb-developing sibling, I picked up kks and found no signs of trauma. On the way to the car she was singing songs--maybe even VBS songs. I took her out for a pancake lunch, and of to child care we travelled. As we speak, her mother is on the way so we can all go to swim lessons. Since kks will be swimming, she should be elated by the day's activities. Nutty suburban lifestyle in this big little town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota...

The way this congregation gets decked out for VBS is something special. Is it all necessary in order for the Gospel to be shared? Probably not, but adults and kids know that we gather in the midst of something special. It is a gift to gather for worship, learning, making friends and celebration.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Little suburban girl

Next weeks activities involve shuttling kks all over Sioux Falls. Her new name will be Suburban Girl. I have no idea how she will do--in some ways it seems extreme--but each activity has an important purpose.

1. Speech Therapy
2. Vacation Bible School
3. Kindermusic
4. Swimming Lessons

Do we need to do these things all at once? I suppose we will soon find out. I know all kinds of families carry on like this--one can visualize the SUV's and minivans piled up in the parking lots of the places we will visit. Something seems wrong with this picture. What happened to days of free play...hours upon hours upon hours? I remember those days.

Five more dollars for the therapy jar?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Gophers for a few days in August


With great thankfulness, our family prepares for two days of evaluation by pediatric neuroscience specialists at the University of Minnesota. We honestly thought we would be waiting until at least September or October. Though I am not a fan of the Big Ten, I may have to pull for those Gophers for the rest of my life for their willingness to take in kks ahead of time. I became accustomed to the nebulous concept of a condition for our little girl for which we grasped in the dark with theories and techniques that would somehow connect us with the world of our little girl. I know the doctors fail to hold omniscience or a silver bullet to take away all of the mysteries and obstacles of kks' brain. But, we have to know more than we do today. Will we?

Sleep is hard to come by these days, and even when I get a moment of peace, I can't slow my thoughts. Kks fell asleep at 530 pm, and I wasted my opportunity. Damn curiosity.

I learned in speech therapy today that kks can actually interact quite well in one on one situations. Outside of these, she struggles mightily. Our mothers have known this for awhile about their granddaughter, yet now we have a context for those observations. Maybe this is why kks has few friends--in such a large class she will struggle to gain the extended one on one contact in order to make a significant connect. Of course, these are more theories. I love theory, but I am ready for practice.