Thursday, February 25, 2010

President Obama's "Health Care Summit"

What is the President doing with this "health care summit?"

I will write more about this later as I watch more of it but something is really striking me.

We have a body that is given by the Constitution the authority to debate and write laws. It's called Congress. The authority of Congress is very clearly delineated. I believe the President is not even allowed to address Congress unless he is invited. Legislation is debated in Congress under strict rules of order and those who participate in the debate are elected representatives of the people. The President of the United States does not set the agenda. He does not run the debate. He is not the chairman of the discussion. In fact, he does not even participate in the discussion on the Senate or House floor.

What I'm seeing today seems very bizarre to me. Why is the President running this public debate? Public debate belongs in Congress. Congress exists for this purpose. The "summit" gives the President undue power. He is in control of the debate. All of the elected representatives of the people are not there. (Conspicuously absent is Bart Stupak, the author of the Stupac pro-life amendment!) The President is grandstanding and once again assuming unto his office authority that is not given it in the Constitution. I'm thinking the republicans should have made a public statement to this effect and refused to attend.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life doesn't always go as planned.

OK. Enough about the beautiful snow and the lovely poem by Thomas Hardy.

I woke up this morning to see a quiet, peaceful snow coming down. When the kids left for school and after my prayer time I thought, "I'll go for a long walk with Lucky. As long as she doesn't get too cold we'll make it extra long. The snow was so amazing looking I even took my camera, sure there would be a shot I just couldn't resist.

Four doors down from my house I see Lucky slip completely off her feet on the ice that was apparently under the snow. Three seconds later I slipped on it too but was able to catch myself. I thought, "Boy, that was my warning. I better be careful."

We crossed the street and passed two more houses before I wiped out completely. I wasn't hurt though a little shaken. Laughing, I said out loud to Lucky, "Well, maybe we won't go for an extra long walk. How 'bout we just try to make it around the block and home."

So I walked a little more carefully, occasionally aware of ice under the snow. About two thirds of the way around the big block I found myself suddenly on the sidewalk, legs twisted under me, my arm somehow behind me, smacked against the pavement and REALLY hurting. My first thought, "Did I break my arm?' It hurt so much. I moved it around, tried all the joints and thought. OK. Not broken. But it hurt so much and I felt so traumatized and shaken I was nearly in tears. At this point I was actually a little scared about the rest of the way home.

The pain greatly decreased after the first five minutes. I think I'm all right but I'm sitting here drinking coffee and taking three motrin. Who knows what I've pulled. I'll find out tomorrow, right? I'll be fine....although this left arm is definitely sore. I'm 55 years old. You get the picture. Falls are not so funny at my age.

Sheesh. OK. The snow's pretty. Lovely landscape. But at the moment I'm very happy to be enjoying it from my window with no broken bones, thanks be to God. Maybe I wouldn't miss the snow if I lived in a warm climate. Maybe not so much :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From "Snow in the Suburbs" by Thomas Hardy

Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:

There's nothing like a big snowfall. I think if I lived in a warm climate I would really miss this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My mother-- may she rest in peace! Mom, we all still love you and miss you!

Today is the sixth anniversary of my mother's passing into eternal life.

She was a good woman, a devoted mother, and a devout Catholic. A stay-at home mom, she was a fierce defender of children and adored her grandchildren. She was incensed at the decision of Roe v. Wade, after having worked on a successful campaign to make abortion illegal in Michigan.

I loved her a lot. She was a good mom.

She suffered from Alzheimer's for close to twenty years. When she was pretty advanced in the disease but still able to talk she once said to me, "I just want to go home and be a mom." Yeah, that said it all. Her heart was in her mothering.

Fifteen years ago or so I wrote the following "Other Voices" column for the Ann Arbor News. At the time there was much discussion in Michigan about assisted suicide. Our state was unfortunately the site of Dr. Kevorkian's numerous murders in the name of compassion.

The essay was focused on this horrific disrespect for human life. But in my heart, it was about my mom. It was about the people who claimed that the value of a human life was variable and about the lies that they were telling. I was tired of defending my father's decision to treat her when she had pneumonia and his refusal to place a DNR (Do no resuscitate order) on her chart. I realize placing a DNR order on her chart would not have been unethical. But he felt it would lower the standard of her care and would not do it. I felt it was nobody else's business if my father's love for her was not in any way diminished by her incapacity. If he loved feeding her one meal a day, if he was more than willing to spend over $4000/month of his own savings to keep her in a nice nursing home, who was anybody else to suggest that he shouldn't.

It was in that context that I wrote the following:

The debate on assisted suicide has taken a chilling turn. The Ann Arbor News has suggested that under certain controlled circumstances doctors should be able to kill their patients at their request. Otherwise reasonable people have joined groups such as Merian's Friends which advocate the codification of assisted suicide guidelines. What is going on here? First those who would assign moral authority unto themselves convince us that an unborn child's life is worthy of respect and protection only if its mother deems it so. Are we now to believe that an individual's own life is also dispensable if the person simply so chooses? It seems that the abortion mentality has so undermined our respect for life that some have become immune to the horror of this suggestion.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian's own actions have demonstrated how this thinking progresses. He is now killing people who are not even terminally ill. And what is to justify the denial of assisted suicide to people in terrible emotional pain if it's allowed to people in physical pain. Why should it be allowed only for those near death? Should we not give the same "right" to those who would face years of pain ahead of them rather than simply months or weeks? Once we decide that man may decide when death should come, there is no stopping the horrific progression of this logic.

In the Netherlands voluntary assisted suicide has led to involuntary assisted suicide (murder) as demonstrated by the Remmelink Study. Some 1000 people were euthanized in 1991 according to this study. There are those who claim this is not morally objectionable because these people were very near death anyway, or in horrible pain. I maintain that every minute of every human life has inestimable value regardless of a person's condition or nearness to death.

Let us not mistake compassion for what is in reality our desire to end our own pain in seeing a loved one suffer. Compassion is being willing to watch a person in pain, to hold their hand and offer them comfort, and to affirm their worth as a human being in spite of their circumstances. When we say to desperately ill people that the taking of their lives is justified, we are lowering them to the level of common animals. Yes, it is compassionate to euthanize a suffering household pet, but should we regard the life of a human being as no more deserving of respect and protection than a dog or cat?

My own mother is in a condition that many people would consider to represent a very low quality of life. For the last six years or more she has been living her worst nightmare-- the development of Alzheimer's Disease. As her condition progressed we, her family, had to watch her terror as she slowly lost the ability to know where she was and how to take care of herself. Every single grip she once had on reality was taken from her and she was left panic-stricken. Sometimes she would ask hundreds of times in single day where dad was, what are we doing, where are the kids, etc. Dealing with her intense anxiety, her hostility, and her nearly constant tears left us almost as desperate as she.

Eventually she lost her ability to walk, to control bowel and bladder functions, and even to feed herself. Ironically she would sometimes ask us, "I'm not going to commit suicide, am I?" She wanted reassurance that those who loved her would never let her do such a thing, even if her suffering reached the point where she might desire what she would not otherwise ever consider.

Is her life without value? Certainly not. It has given me the opportunity to teach my children that all people, especially the elderly and infirm, should be treated with respect, regardless of their capabilities. I am reminded of the time when for the third time in a short while one of my children spilled a whole glass of pop on the newly carpeted floor of the nursing home where my mother resides. As I barked orders to get some paper towels and scrambled to get it up quickly I looked at my mother to find her laughing so hard she was crying. Her disease had given her a perspective on the situation that only the passage of time would give me.

Then there was the time a kind woman whose father was also on the Alzheimer's unit came up to my mother in her wheelchair and said, "You know, Helen, even though your life is the pits you can still make people happy with your beautiful eyes and your sweet smile. You can still give people joy." My mother who had always had a gift for hospitality and truly enjoyed making people happy, looked up at her intently. She no longer even knew her own name consistently, but she was clearly straining to bring the corners of her mouth into a smile, as a tear rolled down her cheek. It is impossible to determine what is the quality of life for an Alzheimer's patient.

Now my mother has lost control of nearly everything. she rarely recognizes me and has lost most of her ability to talk. Still, I would maintain that her life has worth. Every minute of every human life is sacred and belongs to God. He alone is its author and He alone has authority to end it. May my mother always be spared the "compassion" of those who would call themselves "Merian's friends." Some would say that my mother's life is without dignity. I do not. As long as the breath of life is within her she will have dignity because she is a precious daughter of the King.

Snow DAYS!!!!!!! You gotta love 'em!!

We are getting buried in snow. Well, not as bad as some parts of the country but enough to close the schools. I LOVE it. Jim received a call from someone who had his flier from last time and called to ask if he could shovel her snow. That's where he is now.

And since all the schools are closed Mike was able to drive the van to work instead of the mustang which is actually dangerous to drive in the snow. It must have all the traction of a bicycle on snow or ice. It was VERY good that Mike did not have to drive it, although if he had he might have gotten stuck before he got out of our neighborhood and then he would have had a snow day too. Still, better that he be safe.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you know how much I love snow days. Here I sit in my pajamas looking up occasionally to smile at the white stuff still coming down in earnest. It's supposed to snow all day.

At 6:00 I woke up to realize I needed to get the kids up right then. Usually I wake up a little earlier when there's a snow storm. I look out the window and make my own assessment. I watch the cars on the road behind me to see how slowly they're driving. I want to know whether to get my hopes up. Then I turn on the TV. Sometimes there are only a few closings and I know the chances are slim. Today there were hundreds it seemed. Still, you have to wait to actually see your school's name. There was the grade school! Woohooo!!!( I knew Daniel was smiling:-) Daniel is a reader of this blog and a teacher at the school.) If the high school was open both my teen driver and I would have to drive. Jim was going to a retreat today at a different location and I would have to drive Mary. There were so many closings I think it took me 5 minutes before I saw it. Sigh of relief.

Then, quietly, I opened each door. I wanted to let them know without waking them up too much, so they can experience the joy and then go back to sleep.

Softly, "Jim?"

A soft sleepy answer, "Yeah?"

"No school. It's closed."

A whispered, "Yes!"


Half moan, half "yeah?"

"No school," I whispered.

"Yes!" she moans. I can feel their smiles in the dark.



"No school. It's closed."

Bedclothes rustling. I have her attention. "REALLY??"

"Yup, go back to sleep." We're all smiling now.

I went back to sleep too as the snow continued to blanket us in a sweet peace.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the subject of work...

Continuing with the thoughts of the last post.....

I guess we have to discern what God thinks is most important and do that work to the very best of our ability and let other good things wait.

Today I asked the Lord to give me His to-do list for today. That's all I want. There are always so many good things to attend to, so many different directions I could focus my attention. May the Lord free us all from scrupulosity and perfectionism, but also help us to work hard on HIS priorities.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Mother's Work

Last Friday I read the following excerpt from In conversation with God, a daily devotional that I cannot recommend enough. This passage really struck me.

Iron which lies idle is consumed by rust, and becomes brittle and useless. But if it is used for work it is much more useful and attractive. It is in no way inferior to silver itself. The field that lies fallow produces no healthy crop, but only weeds, thistles, thorns and useless plants. The cultivated acres are filled with ripe fruits. In short, every being is diminished by idleness, and is improved by the exercise of the activity proper to it. This is just as true for the housewife and mother who must spend many hours looking after her home and bringing up her children, as it is for the man who is self-employed, or for the student, or for the head of the firm or the worker in the last place on the production line.

God wants from us human work that is well done. this means our working hard, with order, skill, competence and a striving for perfection; it means a completed job with no rough edges, no flaws or blemishes. It means serious work and an end-product that not only looks good, but is good. It doesn't matter whether it is manual work or intellectual work, whether we are the ones who plan the work or the ones who carry it out, whether our efforts are being supervised or not. The Christian brings something new to his work. Apart from the features we mentioned, he does it for God. He presents it to him as a daily offering which will have eternal value.

Wow. Yeah. This was humbling for me. A lot of my work has rough edges. Then again, I do think that the demands of mothering requires a flexibility that sometimes requires an acceptance of less than perfect work. Although the greatest work that a mother does has nothing to do with the tidiness of the home or the cleanliness of the bathroom. Right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SNOW DAY!!!!!!!

Snow Day---Woohoo!!!!!

Here is the official family measurement of the snow in our specific yard...

But somehow I think there was more in the front. I shoveled this walkway twice yesterday-- shoveled it so that there was a lot of pavement showing. This morning it looked completely unshoveled.

Here is our backyard. Winter wonderland. I love it!

Snow days seem life a gift from God to those of us who endure severe weather for a number of months a year. It's as though God knows we need a break. This one was especially wonderful because it was called the night before so we didn't have to get up to check the listings. We just slept in all warm and cozy with the bright fluffy stuff coating everything with peace.

I did quite a bit of shoveling yesterday and then had to do a lot more this morning. My husband or my kids would have done it, but I was having fun. It was a light fluffy snow, pretty easy to lift. But now I'm starting to feel sore. Took a couple of motrin. Maybe a little stretching would help too. (I'm sure it would:-)

Stay warm (if you're in one of these cold climates). Stay safe.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad

Well, so that was what all the fuss was about? I actually thought that maybe the network had made them edit it to be inoffensive, but from what I've read so far I guess that's just what the original ad was.

I went to the Focus on the Family website to "hear the rest of the story" and the interview they have up with Tim's parents isn't even really focused on abortion. It's more about the goodness and love of God. It's a very lovely interview. You can find it here.

Well, I guess all the screaming and fussing by the feminists has been revealed for what it is--- an extreme and irrational defensiveness about the abortion issue. God bless them. I can only think that it comes from their pain. May they be touched and consoled by the infinite mercy and love of God.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Feeling very weary...

It was a busy week. Visitation for Mitch on Wednesday and the funeral on Friday. Mitch had lived his whole life in Lansing and had been a successful small businessman. He was also part of a large and wonderful Christian Lebanese family. Both the funeral home and church were overflowing with mourners.

He was a good man, a man with a soft heart. In looking at the pictures on display I was reminded of how my niece and nephew would have birthday parties at his house. Mitch would give all the kids a hay ride in a trailer he pulled behind his tractor. To make the ride a real adventure he would take them through heavily overgrown, uncut areas of grass on his property. Somehow, one year, my Mary got scared on the ride. The next year, all teary-eyed, she said she didn't want to go on the hayride any more. When Mitch found out what the problem was he offered to let her sit up front with him and help drive the tractor. She happily agreed to that offer and every year after that she sat up front with him, happy to be part of the fun.

One of Mitch's niece's told of when she was very young and had gotten hold of her mother's perfume. She poured half a bottle on herself. All the relatives were commenting on how awful she smelled. But Mitch sat down right next to her without a word. When he was invited to come eat with the others in the next room he said that no, he wanted to sit with Renee.

Such a caring man. Sometimes we don't realize how little acts of kindness can have an enormous impact on those around us. I'm sure Mitch didn't think much about these two incidents. And I'm sure there were many others. He was simply a man with a kind and loving heart. That was how he lived.

Today we drove back to Lansing to see my nephew Mitch play in a basketball tournament. His team won and what a joy it was to see him play. He's very skilled and really leads the team.

Now I'm making a birthday cake for my future son-in-law whose birthday we will celebrate tomorrow, after I return from working at the open house at Liz's school. Busy, busy day. And I'm already tired. It'll be OK. Nothing that a good night's sleep won't fix.

Hope you're all having a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mitch is gone.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I so appreciate them. Mitch went on to be with the Lord and to be reunited with his beloved daughter on Sunday. He will be so sorely missed by his wonderful family and by those of us who had the privilege of knowing him. Please continue to pray for the repose of Mitch's soul and for the consolation his family, especially my niece and nephew to whom he meant so much.

This is what my brother had to say about Mitch.

My father-in-law, Mitch Skory, died last night. He had been on a ventilator for 3 days. He was one of those persons who always seemed larger than life so it’s hard to believe he is gone. He was 84 but looked and acted about 60 or even younger. Always on the move, tackling physically demanding projects. He just gutted and refurbished a house in the last year to make some extra money. He basically did it for fun. His mother lived to be 101(healthy and vibrant to the end) so we always assumed Mitch would live at least that long. His incredible generosity, kindness, patience, and saint like qualities has made him legendary in the very large Skory family. It’s a real blow to Monique and Mitch as he and Bea have played huge roles in their lives in the almost 9 years (4-20-01) since Linda died. He’s also been like a father to me since my father died (11-28-06)

Yeah. That says it all. He was a good man. And he was always so very kind to me and my family. I can see his smile and his gentle manner so clearly. May he even now be before the throne of Jesus with sweet Linda, his only daughter.

Thank you for the prayers.