Monday, March 29, 2010

Preschool Work

Maggie drew this picture of her family. “Mcone” (Wiconi) is in the corner, but she ran out of space before she could add Otis. You may notice that all 3 of us are wearing glasses.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lent 10: The Torture and Humiliation of the King

When I first looked through the book and read through the chapter titles in "24 Hours that Changed the World," I wondered if it would be worthwhile to spend an entire chapter on the torture and humiliation prior to the crucifixion. I wondered if it would have been better for them to break up some of the other chapters: you could easily discuss Peter, Judas, the Sanhedrin, or Pilate in an entire chapter. However, it's also very easy to just gloss over the torture and humiliation. The gospels spend very few verses on it. Growing up, we didn't spend a lot of time on it. When Mel Gibson put out The Passion of the Christ, it was very difficult to get past all the violence of the movie to probably really understand it. And, honestly, rather difficult to believe much of the violence wasn't put out there to try to shock us.

The violence was very very real. The flogging itself most likely almost killed Jesus. The gospels spend very very little time on the physical torture, yet we can guess that hours were probably spent on the flogging. The Romans had specially trained soldiers to inflict the torture. In Sunday's sermon, Pastor Tim and Brian brought out visual aids: a whip, a cat o' nine tails, a crown of thorns, a purple "robe" and a cross beam -- a smaller version of what Jesus possibly carried.

More powerful to me than the violent part of the torture is the emotional torture. God became human and experienced the full breadth of emotions we humans can and do experience. Adam Hamilton put it very well in the daily reflection book:
There are many different dimensions to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Among them is the idea that in Jesus' suffering and death, God was fully identifying with us and was able to experience what we go through as human beings. God knows what it means to feel small, to be attacked mentally and emotionally, and to be physically abused.

Each week of this study has allowed me to see myself in various people. In this study I have found myself identifying with Peter, Judas, Pilate, the Sanhedrin. In looking at this week, I didn't know if I would be able to find myself within these verses. But find myself I did, in a place I didn't want to: in the Roman soldiers. Once again, it is going along with the crowd. I can remember as a child the times I jumped in on the ganged up teasing of the group, even though I had been subject to that ganged up teasing.

The soldiers actually called together their entire squadron -- 300-600 men -- to participate in this humiliation. There were probably some who weren't quite sure what was going on, yet fell into the "fun." We humans can easily fall into the trap of the charismatic speaker. I'm sure not every person who was involved with the Nazi party was evil or started out believing the Jews needed to be killed off. It is easy to get on that slippery slope of believing one small part of the propaganda, then a half truth, then a bigger lie, then a flat out falsehood: demonizing the one you are supposed to be "against." It is so easily seen right now with the health care debate going on. Americans seem to be falling on one side or the other and are believing the lies and half truths about the other side, when the true version most likely lies somewhere in the middle.

The final part of this chapter puts us on the road to Golgotha. After the torture, Jesus is forced to carry his own crossbeam to Golgotha. Physically and emotionally beaten, Jesus would have had a very difficult time carrying the beam very far. Rocky and I recently watched The Real Jesus on the National Geographic channel. For the show, a recreation of a Roman cross was built and an actor who is similar in build to a Galilean man of the 1st century attempted to carry it. This healthy man could carry the crossbeam about 150 ft before the weight became too much for him. It is no wonder that Jesus, in his state, needed assistance. Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service. He probably had never even heard of Jesus, but was most likely a Jew who had come from Cyrene to celebrate Passover. He happened to be in the wrong place at the right time -- or maybe the right place at the wrong time. Or perhaps even the right place at the right time: it is assumed that he became a follower of Jesus after as his sons are mentioned by name in Mark as if the reader should know who they are. In those short minutes, I wonder what happened to convince Simon to follow Jesus? Did one of the disciples go to him after the fact and explain exactly who Jesus was? Did he invite Simon to join them? Was he among those Jesus appeared to after the Resurrection?

Pastor Tim boiled down this chapter to 2 questions: will you be one who helps build the cross or one who helps carry the cross?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I want to ride a bicycle

Last weekend was fabulous! A beautiful pre-spring day. While out running errands, we got Maggie a new bike helmet (complete with knee and elbow pads, and a helmet & pads for her Barbie!). When we got back home, Maggie was ready to try them out and go for a trike ride. She rode all the way to Lake Elmo park and almost all the way home. Last year, she could barely touch the pedals with the seat all the way up. This year, Daddy had to keep moving the seat back! By the end of the summer, she'll probably be ready for a big-kid bike (hint hint, Grandpa Mike).

She just loved being on her bike. She asks almost every day to go for a ride and it should be nice enough today to go for another ride. I'm not sure I'll be able to walk along again as last weekend's walk really wiped me out. Of course, it did Maggie too. After her Saturday ride, she took a 3 hour nap!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lent Reflections: Jesus, Barabbas & Pilate

Another interesting topic. This week was more about people outside of the Jewish religious leadership community and their relationship to Jesus.

The Sanhedrin took Jesus to Pilate as they did not have the power to execute. They had to come up with a reason as Rome did not care about blasphemy. They decided to accuse him of claiming to be King of the Jews, which was a likely road to execution -- Rome would not take kindly to someone wanting to take leadership of the Jews. They had spent a lot of time in the past few centuries taking care of insurrections and the messiah du jour. People had expected/wanted Jesus to be a messiah that would save them from the Romans and make everything good in this life. When they greeted him with palms the week before, they were greeting him as a hero, a rescuer, the one who would give them a new kingdom in this world. They didn't understand the kind of kingdom Jesus was promising.

I'd like to write about Barabbas first. I find him a very interesting character, even though he seems to be a very small part of the story. Jesus Barabbas (or Jesus Bar-Abbas). Now, he was the type of messiah the Jews were looking for. Most likely, he wanted to be the one to lead the Jews to overthrow the Romans, to take political power. He had most likely heard of Jesus of Nazareth, maybe even considered him a rival -- after all, Jesus had talked of leading a "new" kingdom. Barabbas had already made one attempt to take over with the sword and it landed him in jail, waiting for a cross of his own. I wonder if the thought ever crossed his mind that he might be the one released by Pilate for Passover. What went through his mind when the guards came to get him? Could he hear the crowds chanting his name? Was he thrilled to get another chance to lead the Jews to rebellion? Did he understand what it meant that Jesus of Nazareth was taking his place?Was he happy? "Better him than me"? Was he confused? We don't know what happened to Barabbas after he was released. The next big rebellion was 40 years away -- did he try something before that and ended up in the same spot as before? Was he a part of that next rebellion?

And the people that called for Barabbas' release? Did they understand what they were choosing? I think so. They wanted someone to lead them in an uprising in this world. They didn't understand what kingdom Jesus was talking about. They didn't care about the next world, they cared about this world. I think many of us would make the same decision today. We want our leaders to come in and make changes NOW. We don't want to wait a few years or decades for things to get better; we want things to be better now. And when things don't change fast enough, we look for the next messiah who promises to make things better, and fast. Which Jesus will you choose?

Then there's Pilate. The Gospels paint Pilate as much as a coward, one who was swayed by the crowd, as one who did not hesitate to kill Jews (Luke 13:1). Tradition holds that Pilate was inflexible, harsh and stubborn. I wonder why Pilate was so hesitant to kill Jesus; did he had an inkling of what it would mean to put Jesus on the cross? He didn't really need a reason, and the Sanhedrin gave him the perfect one: Jesus was claiming to be King of the Jews. Yet, Pilate went through the trial, looking for a reason to NOT kill Jesus. He asked the crowd numerous times. He tried to pass the decision off to Herod, whose father had tried to kill the baby Jesus. He did everything he could to not crucify Jesus, except actually make the decision and release Jesus.

I think Pilate's actions are understandable. How many times have I gone along with the crowd or with what society said was okay when I knew it was the wrong choice? Trying to satisfy myself or others rather than God led me down several wrong paths. I have heard the siren song of the crowd. I hear it still today. What matters is the choice I make when I hear that song. Do I satisfy the crowd and wash my hands of the decision? Or do I do what I know to be right and take the responsibility?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Best Friends

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who you calling "Elderly"?

So, I'm an "older" mom. I've come to terms with the fact that I am "of advanced maternal age" which any pregnant woman over the age of 35 is labeled. I've come to terms with the fact that being over 35 + having a miscarriage + having had pre-eclampsia previous = high risk. But honestly, I haven't been treated any differently this pregnancy than my last. I'm seen a bit more often, but I can live with that, especially as the third trimester is just next week and my visits are going to start ramping up next month. But I learned something today that just about sent me over the edge. I was on our insurance company's website to complete some online coaching that is required by Rocky's work to get bonuses regarding insurance premiums. While there, I noticed a link to "Conditions" and thought I'd see what was there for me. Under Primary Diagnosis were the words:

Elderly Multigravida, with Antepartum Condition or Complication

Elderly? ELDERLY??? Are you freakin' kidding me?? I thought for sure it was a mistake. Elderly and antepartum don't go together. So I Googled it. And this came up:

Elderly multigravida. Second or more pregnancy in a woman who will be 35 years of age or older at expected date of delivery

Okay, well, yes, that IS me, but who is the genius in health insurance that decided the term "Elderly" should be applied to women over the age of 35? You know it was a man.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Third Trimester

Wow. I just returned from a boring (yay!!) OB appointment and we scheduled all my appointments through my due date: June 15. This is just going to FLY by now. Part of me is ready to be done. I was trying to figure out why I'm already ready to be done and I realized that the miscarriage is throwing me off. If we hadn't lost that baby, I'd already have a baby and probably be getting ready to return to work, if I wasn't already back. I try not to think about it too much, but I know that's why I'm feeling this way.

I had thought about asking about my weight gain -- basically because I can't remember where I was when I started -- but then I decided not too. If my OB isn't worried or concerned, then I'm not going to be either. I did the gestational diabetes test today and will have those numbers tomorrow and that's probably a better test of what's going on in my body. I didn't even ask about my blood pressure. Again, why should I freak myself out with numbers if my doctor (the one whose been doing this for 15 years) isn't freaked out?

I think baby is still facing downward as I still only feel him/her in the same spot (lower right side). The heartbeat was 138 and easy to find as baby can't hide anymore.

Maggie explained to us how the baby will be born: when Mommy's belly button pops out, then the belly button will open up and the baby will crawl out. She just brings joy to my heart!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lent Reflections: Condemned by the Righteous

Wow.  This last week’s study has been so convicting.  And very difficult.  I see myself in so many parts of this story – the overly righteous, so convinced that I am right; the quiet one standing by, knowing what is happening is wrong, yet not saying anything, just letting it happen around me; the rash, reacting one, following behind yet denying who I really am.

A lot of my thoughts are stuck on the Sanhedrin.  I know that I have been both  inside the Sanhedrin and standing outside of the Sanhedrin, calling them hypocrites, at various times in my life.  In the story, the Sanhedrin are the top 71 holy men of the time.  Probably at the top of the social ladder.  They had control; they could tax.  Caiaphas was the leader of the Sanhedrin and, most likely, his power was handed down to him from his father-in-law with Rome’s blessing.  I can imagine him bragging to the others of the times he has convinced Rome of something, or perhaps he spent time at Pilate’s – whether as part of a larger gathering or maybe they were friendly.  As friendly as a Roman and Jewish leader could be.  It was likely a relationship that was mutually beneficial.  Caiaphas could keep the Jews under control and gather more taxes for Rome and Pilate could look the other way as taxes were skimmed off the top.

Whatever the relationship, Caiaphas saw Jesus as a threat to his way of life.  Jesus was preaching change, a new kingdom and his reaction to the merchants in the temple was probably the last straw for Caiaphas.  Caiaphas and the others used Judas to arrest Jesus and had to have some sort of preplanning going on – how else do they gather all 71 members of the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night after the most important meal in the Jewish faith?  If the disciples couldn’t stay awake, how were they able to gather all of the members of the Sanhedrin so quickly? And the witnesses?  There was a mob of people at this trial and no Twitter or Facebook to make these arrangements at the last minute.

Fear is a powerful motivator and this story is filled with fear.  Fear can create an angry mob and people can easily fall into this mob even if they don’t agree with the direction the mob is taking.  It’s hard to believe that all 71 members of the Sanhedrin followed Caiaphas’ train of thought.  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are part of the Jewish leaders: Nicodemus as a “leader of the Jews” (John 3:1) and Joseph is listed as a “respected member of the council” (Mark 15:43).  Were they at the trial?  We are told both were “secret” followers of Jesus.  If they were part of the 71, why didn’t they speak up?  How many times have I been that person?  The one who knew what was happening wasn’t right, yet didn’t say anything, who sat by and fought the urge to speak up?

And then there’s Peter.  Peter, the hotheaded one, who loved Jesus so, yet denied knowing him 3 times that night.  But he was there.  He followed the arresting mob. John also followed, but it seems John was allowed in – which is probably the only way we know what happened at the trial – though I wonder where was John?  Was he right in the trial, or only allowed to stand outside?  We didn’t really discuss John on the inside, so I’m just going to write about Peter.  We focus so many times on the denials, that we forget that he was there.  Jesus was able to LOOK at him when Peter denied him the third time.  There are theories that try to exonerate Peter, but those theories would involve Peter having foreknowledge of what was going to happen and to plan through why he should deny knowing Jesus and I just don’t think Peter planned that far ahead.  We know Peter to be impetuous and reactionary.  I think Peter was curious and wanted to know what was happening, yet was scared, so very scared for his life.  I know there have been times that I have denied God, by words or deeds, but my life has never been on the line.  I was merely trying to save “face” or attempt to increase a social standing.  How revolting does that seem in the face of what Peter did?  Peter was THERE.  Peter’s life was on the line.  The guards could have taken him in regardless of his answer.  Can we really, truly blame Peter for his rash answer?

One last thought on Judas.  Matthew tells us that Judas repented when he found out that Jesus had been condemned and returned the 30 pieces of silver and then killed himself.  While there are a number of theories on Judas and why he did what he did, we will most likely never know, in this life, exactly what his reasons were.  We know he turned Jesus over to the Jewish leaders and then regretted his actions.  Judas sincerely thought Jesus’ time was over.  He, as all of the disciples, didn’t understand Jesus’ teachings on his resurrection.  What if Judas had waited just 2 days?  What if he had sought out the other disciples to explain why he did what he did?  If he had, Judas would have been among the disciples when Mary came running to tell them he was back.  Would he have been with Peter and John when they ran to see with their own eyes?  Perhaps this is the lesson we can learn from Judas – to wait before we act or react to an event.  I can think of several situations right now that I can take this lesson to heart.  Actually, I can think of several situations in my life in which all of these lessons apply.  Now, I need to apply them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

26 weeks

Holy crap. I figured out a few days ago that I am 2 short weeks from the 3rd trimester. I can't believe how quickly the weeks are going by. A couple of weeks ago, I bit the bullet and purchased several maternity tops on ebay. My leftovers from when Maggie was born are a little more casual than I can wear to work. I had kind of forgotten that last time around I borrowed the majority of my maternity clothes. I had very little left that was both acceptable for work and winter! Now that it's getting warmer, my wardrobe will expand to include some skirts and as it gets even warmer, I will be able to include some dresses. If I haven't out grown them by the time it's warm enough.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


We definitely have a Beatle-Maniac in the making. Maggie really loves Beatle Rock Band and now calls "Yellow submarine" her song.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lent Reflections: the Garden of Gethsemene

I think I am going to come away from this study with many many more questions than answers. I can remember learning this part of the story growing up, but obviously, not in the detail this study is going into. I know we learned that Jesus asked for the cup to be taken from him, but I don't remember going into the struggle and anguish he was going through.

This part of the story is fairly short; the disciples do not get into the details of the prayer -- probably because they all fell asleep. And really, can you blame them? It had been a very busy week, they had just completed a large meal and then walked 20-25 minutes just to get to the garden where Jesus decided he wanted to pray. It was probably around midnight and they had probably been up since early that morning, and spent the day preparing for the feast. Jesus admonishes them 3 times, and yet I wonder what he had asked of them. The Bible only tells us that he asked them to pray they would not fall into temptation. Did he ask anything else of them? Did he even hint at what was going to happen later that night? We know he also told them they would all turn away from him, as we all do. This is probably another reason this part is short: the disciples do not come out looking well.

These short passages also show the very human side of Jesus. He asked, begged, God to take this away, to find another way. It was God's plan -- why couldn't He change it? Why did it have to happen this way? As a parent, I cannot even fathom coming up with such a plan that would require my only child to be sacrificed in this way.

Adam Hamilton describes this as a time of temptation for Jesus. This seems very logical. Of course, Satan would have Jesus' ear whispering questions, questions that he whispers to me all the time: are you sure this is His plan? Just cut and run or fight, you don't have to just walk into this. Just think about what could happen if you don't do this. It just makes sense that if Jesus was truly human that this would be his biggest temptation. Which makes me wonder why Christians were all up in arms over The Last Tempation of Christ. I understand there was more to it than just controversy over Christ being tempted, but I also understand that many do not want to see the human side of Christ. Isn't it much more wonderful for us that God truly came to Earth as human? That he knows the temptations we go through daily? That He truly understands us?

As part of our study, Brian brought out some of the traditional portraits of Christ in Gesthsemene: the serene Jesus praying at the stone, looking up to Heaven, light shining on him or a halo around him. The Jesus of Tradition that went willingly, with no question, to His destiny that God had written out for him. Later in the small group time, Brian shared with us a Gauguin painting of Gethsemene. In further reading, I discovered that Gauguin used his own face in the painting. How fitting. And isn't that rather the point? That Jesus, in his anguish at Gethsememe became "everyman". He knows us. He knows what it is to be human.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Frantic Friday

Lots of thoughts rambing through my head:

Rocky's cell phone broke about a week ago or so, and yesterday he bought a slick new phone. Not quite the Smart phone variety, but lots of features and it got him thinking about our cell phones vs. having a home phone. When we lived in Michigan, we did not have a home phone, just our cell phones. We were headed that direction in Virginia until Hurricane Isabella hit and everyone was pretty much without cell service or was with very limited cell service. So, we got the home phone and eventually switched over to Virgin Mobile pay as you go plans, which we both really liked, and were very very affordable. I think I paid $20 every 2-3 months for the phone and I could call, text, do videos, photos and send those off as well. When we moved to Montana, we discovered (the hard way) that Sprint/Virgin Mobile does not have coverage in Montana. At all. So after a false start with a "pay as you go" plan (which still had a daily charge just for having the phone), we got a home phone with cell phones through Qwest. Then Qwest changed their cell phone coverage to Verizon. Our contract is up this summer (of course Rocky's phone breaks BEFORE this) and as we could never use up all of our minutes -- I think our plan has 700 minutes/month and last month we used 38 -- we are now looking at getting rid of the home phone and upgrading our plan this summer to allow us to get the Smartphones or Droid. So, I'm going to have to start researching what I want and deciding what I want/need a more complex phone to do for me, beyond making calls. Because honestly, I probably use my cell phone more for taking pictures and videos than actually making calls.

Maggie is falling into Beatle-mania a bit. She really enjoys the Beatles Rock Band game and her new favorite song is "Yellow Submarine". We have video of her and me playing the Rock Band game that I still need to edit and share. My goal for the weekend.

Rocky's garage theatre is coming to be. He purchased an inflatable movie screen (73 inches) and projector. I think he is still looking for the right speakers. But I came home the other night to Maggie and Rocky in the garage watching "Hulk vs. Thor" and after making some supper, we all watched most of "Beauty and the Beast" until it got too chilly in the garage (and I got too uncomfortable in the lawn chair). Rocky has some definite ideas of what movies he wants to show in his theatre, but I think I've talked him into a screening of "The Ten Commandments" -- Charlton Heston and all the cheesiness of that 50s classic movie would be perfect for a warm summer's night in the backyard with lots of popcorn and beer!

I am now 25 weeks pregnant and can't believe I'm almost to the third trimester! It feels like we've been waiting for this for so long and yet, it seems to be going by so fast. It is fun to watch Maggie and her fascinations. This morning, she accidentially, lightly kicked me and ask if she could say she was sorry to the baby and kissed me. I'm feeling the baby moving a lot more. I'm also going back and forth on if the baby is a boy or a girl. Part of me really wants another little girl, if only to be able to use some of those adorable little outfits we got for Maggie. But in all honesty, I don't care and am just looking forward to meeting this little one: who, I realized the other day, could be born on Father's Day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lent Reflections: Wesley Covenant Prayer

At last night's Fuel, I was reminded of this prayer that I heard many years ago at the Presbyterian Church I attended in Boulder, CO. I think it is a wonderful reflection on the Garden of Gethsemene:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

I will write more about the garden later as I have many many thoughts rambling through my head.