Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A lovely Christmas

So, the Colorado blizzard is melting although the streets are rutted, icy, and bumpy. Christmas Eve services went well. I preached at the two morning ones; at the late morning one, our church's adopted homeless family, who have now attained housing and employment, came to meet us and receive their mountain of Christmas gifts. The four children, all of whom are adorable, were thrilled. Each got to open one gift, so we had two little girls proudly wearing their new bathrobes for the rest of the service. I don't know who was more excited--the children, or the congregation--we were like kids ourselves the weeks before Christmas, buying and wrapping gifts.

At the evening service, the pastor preached, and we had our traditional candle-lighting. Standing room only despite the weather! The singer who always sings for the candle-lighting wanted to make room for us to do something different; he loves the song and ceremony but didn't want his attachment to it to get in the way. He said, "We don't have to do this..." and we said, "Oh, yes, we do." Then he said, "Well, I don't have to the be the one who sings..." and we said, "Oh, yes, you do." And so it was.

There are three brothers who are served by, and serve in, the food pantry. They are late-middle-aged and all are disabled. One or two are able to work part-time only. They have developmental disabilities and some other disabilities as well. They are absolute bears for work--it may take them a little longer to learn a complex task, but once they've got it they are rock solid. One brother is the lead volunteer on one of the main "stations" in the food pantry. They are loving and beloved members of that little community. On Christmas Eve night, the pastor welcomed them as members of the church. I took some photos and will get prints for them. They were so excited!!! Each of them came up to each staff member before church to remind us that they were joining, and one said, "This is going to be the best Christmas EVER." Since I have been working in the food pantry in December, I now get hugs from all three brothers, and I look forward to it, and to them. I hope they like their pictures.

Sad news too. One member of the church's Board is worried about one of her brothers, who's been in frail health with diabetes and horrific complications (renal failure, one amputation already and another one may be in his future) who spent the week before Christmas in ICU with what looked like an Addison's disease crisis though his doctors aren't completely certain. This poor fellow is only 44, and has been through so much already, and his family members are worried sick. Another man's son died of leukemia just before Christmas, and a man who is perhaps one of the best-loved in the church had a colonoscopy Saturday--he has a type of familial colon cancer for which he's been treated twice, and he is now waiting for biopsy results on three more polyps. He's scared to death, and I am too. Praying like mad for good news. I think it may be especially bad for him because he *knows* what will be ahead for him if the cancer has returned.

The unwonted exercise of shoveling, scraping, and pushing that resulted from the blizzard left my bad shoulder flared up, so I've had an off-and-on migraine (comes from the neck being in spasm, not as severe as most migraines most people have so it's more annoying than incapacitating). Yesterday was quiet and peaceful. I listened to music, read, walked the dog, did laundry. A letter carrier broke the silence to deliver the absolute perfect Christmas gift, from my brother and sister-in-law: a Starbucks gift card!!!! I feel warm, comfortable, happy, and deeply loved. It does not get any better. I hope everyone else's Christmas was good as well.

Friday, December 15, 2006

a quick note

The sewer line is replaced! The crew worked really efficiently; everything was done in 4 hours, then they had to wait for the city inspector. I had to leave to have my dental restoration installed but by the time I got home everything was filled in. Totally excellent.

The tire that had "no nail or anything in it?" The one the dealer's employee thought needed replacing? Two screws, in two different areas of the tire. Total bill: $20.00. I kept the screws and am tempted to drive down and show them to the dealer.

So far, so good!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If it isn't one thing it's another

Never, ever ask "What else can happen??" unless you really want to know.

So, last night on my way home from my food pantry shift, I swerved to make room for emergency equipment and hit a curb and wrecked a tire on my van. Limped home. This morning the city came and inspected and found that, yes, my sewer tap is broken. And no, I do not qualify for DURA money to help with the repair. Too many assets. OK. Fair enough, because that money really *should* be for people who are hurting badly, and God only knows there are plenty of them.

AAA came and swapped the busted tire for the donut, and I dropped the busted tire at the tire place, and I took the bus to the shop to get the other car out. Here's a lovely tale: the reason the "Check Engine" light was on was because the battery was failing. (The "battery" light never came on, of course.) And there really is nothing they can do to check the electrics because there was no problem when they tested things out. So they replaced the battery under warranty. OK, now, this is the car with the power doorlocks that, on the passenger side, are possessed. And this is also the car that had the *last* battery replaced last March AFTER IT WENT TOTALLY FLAT AND COULD NOT BE RECHARGED. A pattern. Which do *you* think is more likely?? Two bad batteries in a row or an electrical problem? Also, I asked them to check the right rear tire which was low. And call me if action was needed. No call. When I picked it up, I paid and walked out front where the car was supposed to be. And looked into the shop, where I saw two guys putting air into the right rear tire. When questioned, the man who brought the car round told me that, yes, they'd checked it earlier and there wasn't a nail in it or anything so it has a slow leak so all that can be done (!!!) is replace the tire. And it's a *slow* leak so it probably won't be flat for two or three days (!!!!!!) They didn't think this warranted a call before I came to pick up the car. Soooooo, when I got the new tire put on the van this evening, I made an appointment at the tire place for the car on Thursday morning (unless either the tire has flattened or the intermittent electrical problem has caused the battery to fail again, oh joy). Then, once each vehicle has four functioning wheels, I will make an appointment to take the van in for its Check Engine light diagnostic. And I am praying that they will not find anything ghastly expensive wrong. I am also praying that the eedjits who had the van for three full weeks over the summer for repairs that should have taken less than one week did not mess anything up. I would put nothing past them. (It was a dealership, which *closed* abruptly shortly after I finally got the van back.)

I am really tired and my sense of humor about all this is getting a little loopy. When I was talking to the sewer contractor to whom I have been recommended, I scheduled an appointment for an estimate for tomorrow. The contractor had some folks who could have done it today, but I explained about the two broke cars and told him I expected the telephone to explode momentarily. It hasn't yet, but I am wary.

Food pantry ministry is wonderful fun and I am in awe of how this group of volunteers, so many of whom are themselves facing tremendous obstacles in life, have got a system going and have built familial relationships while working very hard to serve their clients. Actually, all the volunteers I've worked with so far are themselves clients, and they have been most gracious to me. They've been good teachers partly because they're so proud of their work (and with good reason). And, truly, there is something elementally satisfying about filling an order and handing someone a sack with the groceries they've chosen from the list, and thanking the person for coming, and wishing them a good week. I think I am definitely more cut out for the "trenches" of direct service than for the equally demanding but different "trenches" of management.

We did have a truly terrifying moment when one client collapsed with an acute asthma attack. The client had been having breathing problems triggered by weather change and I think coming in from the dry cold to the dry heat just tipped things from "problem" to "crisis;" the client fell down hard, and everyone started running to assist. Client didn't have an inhaler, hadn't been able to find it, but luckily I had mine, so I ran to the car and got it. Someone called 911. I swear, I thought we were going to lose this person on the spot--deeply flushed face and almost agonal respirations--but after about 15 hits of albuterol in about 10 minutes, by the time the paramedics arrived the client was sitting up with support and was able to speak a few words at a time. The client wanted to just walk home but the treating paramedic warned that the risk of death (yes, that's what he said) was still substantial without further treatment, and after a few minutes to think it over and some encouragement from friends who were there, the client agreed to transport to the nearest hospital. Paramedics would not allow the client to walk to the ambulance, even with assistance, for fear the airway would start to close again. So the poor client got rolled out on a stretcher, receiving oxygen, and never did get groceries (though the volunteers will help with that during the week if need be). Not the way anyone wants an evening to go. Client had not wanted an ambulance and one very zealous volunteer was shouting "Don't call 911" on the basis of supporting the client's wishes. I said, forcefully, that calling wasn't a choice. It's one thing if someone gets clear information from a medical professional who is capable of assessing the risk, and then chooses to decline treatment. That's awful enough to cope with, but declining even to be examined, while under care of our church in some way, is not something we can let happen. Especially not when a person can't think clearly because NO OXYGEN IS GETTING TO THE BRAIN. I hope the poor client had a short stay in the ER with some good breathing treatments and is resting safe at home now with medication.


No, I don't want to know what else can happen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Back again!

It has been awhile (again), as I realized that I had gotten really, really run down and needed REST. Plus the city is coming to do a dye test on my sewer line tomorrow which will, they anticipate, prove that I need to have the thing dug up and repaired at my expense, plus both cars have "Check engine" lights (one is now in the shop, the other will go in as soon as that one's back) so I have been hit with the economic equivalent of a major migraine. Why these things couldn't wait until I am done with school I have no idea, but it must have to do with God's occasionally unfortunate sense of humor. Weary, weary is how I feel, but happy anyhow.

Very little besides the absolutely necessary is getting done. But the dogs and I are enjoying each other's company. Christmas lights are up. I am working on two sermons, plus working at the food pantry two shifts each week, plus, plus.

Another sad story--another pastor of a big evangelical church has resigned as allegations surfaced of his same-sex connections. Poor man and his poor family, he has fought his homosexual inclinations since childhood and has a load of internalized shame. And he married without telling his wife; she knew nothing until last week. So much healing needed on all counts. AND, he still believes homosexuality is sinful, and would still teach that. So much suffering and all needless in my opinion. Prayers for that family and that church--they'll need 'em.

Service in Boulder last night--they are working on the order of service THEY want, and musicians from that community sang and played, very nicely. I will preach there in January and they seem happy about that. But I didn't get home until late, so I could sleep all day, but it's food pantry day today! Gotta get cracking soon here, so will sign off for now.