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No Fun

Catheterization is one of those procedures that I heard about but never fully understood.  Till yesterday.

My father-in-law is in the rehab hospital to recover from fracturing his C2 (upper cervical spine) vertebrae.  It’s the bottom of the two on which your head pivots on the neck.  A broken one causes excruciating pain with movement, and today marks the one week anniversary of his condition.

As if that weren’t enough, Gpa was informed two days ago that he may be “retaining urine” in his bladder, even after relieving himself.  The powers that be decided the thing to do was insert a catheter so that he could completely empty the bladder to avoid infection.  He was familiar with the procedure from the past.

I’m not saying that this was a “bad” idea, but it did add one more suffering to his overall experience of being treated.  He experienced two abortive attempts to insert the catheter before they called in the most experienced person (the urologist) who used lidocaine before trying the third and final time.

I awoke this morning and cried to think about what he is going through at age 91 and with confusion.  John has decided that his father needs to receive regular prayer by the men in our community in order not to lose heart during this very challenging time.  Thankfully, they are stepping up.  (All your prayers and kind wishes are appreciated!)

Dear Lord, be in this situation and console Howard with your comfort.  Thank you for helping him to realize that you are with him through it all.

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Christmas Eve 2009 – wearing the “Elliott” tartan

This post was written on Sunday night; it shares a “praise report” and quick answer to prayer.  First, Howard – 91 years of age – is my father-in-law, the quintessential “self-made man”, a widower these 12 years, who has considered living alone to be an imperative in his life.  He has been growing in instability [regarding walking], and decreasing in his ability to prepare food and do other activities of daily living and has also been generally dismissive of religion and specifically scornful of needing God’s help.  We did not let that stop us from helping him both as family and in Jesus’ name.  He has lived with us in our home since April 1 following an injury when he fell in his kitchen.

Howard had fallen again, four days earlier, sometime before 4:00 a.m., but was found and quickly transported by 911 EMT’s to the emergency room with excruciating pain.  He had fractured the C2 cervical vertebrae, the “pivot” point on the spine for the head!  “Cervical spine (C-spine) injuries are the most feared of all spinal injuries because of the potential for significant deleterious sequelae. Correlation is noted between the level of injury and morbidity/mortality (ie, the higher the level of the C-spine injury, the higher the morbidity and mortality). Craniocervical junction injuries are the deadliest.” (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1267150-overview)

In our church this past Sunday, we remembered St. John the Baptist and honored his important role in preparing the way for Christ.  However, the day was filled up with visiting Dad (or Gpa) and looking at facilities to which he could be transferred the next day.  After this, while John attended our usual People of Praise community meeting, I stayed home uncharacteristically to rest.   John came after the meeting to bring me back to the hospital and said he had invited two couples up to the hospital room and we would all go out to dinner.   I expressed concern that John’s plan would not give my father-in-law enough of a visit and that we simply mustn’t make a “big evening of it.”  John was surprised – one couple included my former heads of household from which I was married!  Our Father had other plans for us.  I decided to acquiesce.

First, Dave and Beky arrived; they are members of the Evangelical Free Church, a frankly joyous couple who exude the peace of Christ.  Dave mentioned to Howard that he was looking forward to heaven.  “Heaven!” said Howard, “I think of hell which is where I expect to go.”   Dave said, “We would all go there if it weren’t for the one who saved us.”  Howard replied, “I don’t have any savior.”  Silence ensued briefly until I stood up and put my hand over his and said, “Dad, you DO have a savior.”  “Who is it?” he asked.  “Jesus Christ is your savior and He loves you; you know that!”  John jumped in to tell a story by Mark Twain called, “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven“.  That’s probably more in line with the kind of thinking about heaven that Howard could understand.  (Twain wrote it shortly before his death and it appears to be unfinished at that time.)

Shortly, Frank and Carolyn, members of St. Ambrose Catholic Church, arrived.  They have a VERY evangelistic bent as well as being long-time acquaintances of Howard’s whom he greatly enjoys.  Carolyn sat down first. saying how unfortunate that they had to meet under such circumstances and other expressions of solidarity and compassion.  Then Frank spoke truthfully about Howard’s current situation not being able to help himself or to “stand” on his own any more.  He mentioned that Howard needed to trust God in this situation to help him.  Howard said that “he [God] had better get busy because he isn’t doing much at the moment.”  Not deterred, Frank pointed out that he needed healing and offered, “Would you like us to pray with you for healing?”  Howard:  “I would like that”.  Frank:  “Is there anything else we should pray for?”  Again there was momentary silence, into which I volunteered, “You have had a problem with balance…”  He said, “Yes, I have a problem with balance.”  So Frank said, “Well, then, we’ll pray for both physical balance and spiritual balance.”  And so we began.

Frank led the prayer during which we all laid hands on Howard and supported charismatically with quiet prayer in agreement.  It was a powerful moment.  I took the opportunity to pray directly to Howard’s guardian angel asking the angel to keep reminding Howard of this prayer so he would not forget (he has short-term memory lapses.)  After a few moments like this, Frank ended the prayer, “… in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.”  Then incredibly, Howard continued praying TO GOD, thanking Him for all that he is doing for him and for our prayer and for all of us.  He concluded by asking God to continue blessing all of us.   It was an unprecedented moment that brought me to tears.

Our family and various members of  the People of Praise have been beseeching God on Howard’s behalf for years.  His wife Loretta, who preceded him in death in 2000, prayed faithfully for him well into her struggle with Alzheimer’s, staying after church services to lift him up.

Shortly after this miraculous time of prayer, we did go out for a celebratory dinner – a fun time of fellowship and sharing about all that the Father is doing in our area currently.  During the conversation, I expressed that I had felt terribly burdened earlier in the day but now felt freed and relieved.  Immediately,  Beky shared about a prophecy that had been given at the earlier POP meeting; it discussed the diabolical intention that we would feel heavy burdens and be tempted to move away from our community relationships.  However, the solution to the problem was delving deeper into the relationships!  I agreed that this evening for me had been the fulfillment of the prophecy.  We were all very built up and impressed with how the Lord had worked mightily in the circumstances surrounding Howard’s life!

Glory to God!

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October 15, 1971

This was the beginning of the People of Praise community – a very important day for thousands of people.  Not all of those people were yet born on the day, but it was the ground-breaking for a new “mansion” in the Kingdom.

What began with 29 people in South Bend, Indiana, United States, has grown to “2,900 people in 21 branches across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean”!  The rate of growth is no small thing; neither is the spread across North America.

I am humbled by the scope of the Father’s work, yet thrilled to be a part of it all.  It’s helpful to keep in mind that the community IS a WORK OF GOD!  The following are examples of how that work is taking place in Northern Virginia.

The past week we had several celebrations.  One was the annual picnic last weekend – the Father allowed the weather to be “picture perfect”.

Children enjoying the Moon Bounce at Nottoway Park, during the Community Picnic

Animated conversations took place

Grilling of burgers and "dogs" filled the Autumn air with the odor of promise

And the children delighted in the candy when the "Pig flew"

The men celebrated on Monday night at the Ridenours’ house.  Both the host and hostess were confined to bed for various reasons, but they saw no reason to relocate the celebration.  Heroic hospitality is sometimes displayed in the People of Praise – this was an example.

The women’s celebration was held at Good Shepherd Church with outstanding desserts lovingly prepared by sisters and beautiful decorations provided by several women.  One of these sisters stayed till the last decoration was in place then had to return home with a migraine headache.  Another who is the expectant parent of two young children, stayed and ensured all was in readiness.  Later that night, she was up for hours with a sick child and she herself came down with a virus.  More heroic service.

Sisters enjoyed generous times of fellowship, praise and worship, a newsy history of the community delivered by handmaid Barbette Brophy, and a time of “standing-up” if you fit certain categories.  The stand-up portion was for things like:  Which of you has lived in household?  Who has ever attended Trinity school?  Who in this room came from the John the Baptist community in San Francisco?  Have you visited another branch?  (two branches?  three?  up to eight?  One sister was left standing.)

Music ministry leads us in "Love So Strong"

Afterward, there were two skits, one that revealed sisters learning valuable lessons in their group and the other a “final return” of the POP tarts – a lip-sync trio of Nanci Panos, Barbette Brophy and Maria Elliott.  This skit ended with the POP Tart concept being passed on to the next generation of sisters – Theresee McNichol Rosenthal, Julia Fraga Shek, and Rebecca Feeks.  Glory!

Patty Whelpley, Cathy McAleer, Julie Rubio, and Carolyn Bassett

The POP Tarts LIVE

Do they still have the "old sparkle"?

Gals, it's time to "pass the baton on" to the next generation!

Welcome the HIP ...

... POP TARTZ

Sisters! Glory to God!

Finally, last evening, my husband and I were literally on our way to a “date night”.  Stopping to write a note, we answered a phone call.  It was our neighbors one street over who are also in the POP.  They asked if we had dinner plans and we said “yes” but do you want to join us?  They were ready to go momentarily so we all met at a local restaurant for an unexpected shared meal.  The evening was very uplifting to us all and could be considered one of the multitude of blessings we find together in the People of Praise.

Happy Anniversary, People of Praise community!

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Why march for life?

Placards from the March for Life

Definitely not for politics.

Maybe you could say for civil rights – to restore the right to millions of persons to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

But I think the real reason is that the babies cannot march, as Father Mark Ivany of the Catholic Church of the Little Flower said at the Youth Mass at the Verizon Center for thousands of pro-life young (and young at heart) folks including plenty of bishops and priests.

To paraphrase, during the fight against slavery, the enslaved people could cry out, think, act, even try to escape.  During the movement to change the policy that prevented women from voting, women and men could march, and speak, and write passionate pleas.  But this movement is different – to protect the right to life for pre-born babies, the ones being massacred cannot do any of the above.  Who else should do it if not the living, breathing, thinking men, women, and children?

Look at these pictures, you will mostly see regular moms, dads, teens, and even younger children who are speaking up for those who cannot do the slightest thing for themselves.

“Whatever you do to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you do to me.”

 

It begins.

A group waits to join in.

We entered the throng.

Behind us, thousands filled Constitution Avenue.

Official banner of the March for Life

We are in front of the Supreme Court where, in 1973, the landmark, controversial decision Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal throughout the country.

 

Some sang uplifting songs, others prayed as they marched

Rabbis for Life!

 

Ladies from an Eastern European background

Those who protest this atrocity fill the square in front of the Supreme Court

 

A group with "Life" balloons followed the chanting leader, dancing.

We waited at the Supreme Court for an hour and half.  The people kept on coming.  Honestly in 38 years, I don’t think I have seen so many.  We pray that the leaders of the country take notice.

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I’ve decided I want to blog more.  So I’m starting right now.  The idea is to post on this blog at least once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it’s a great way to share stories and good news and keep faraway friends informed on what’s happening here in NoVA – where we, too, are building the kingdom of God!  It might even be inspiring.  WordPress is providing ideas for the use of intrepid bloggers like me at  The DailyPost to help along the way.   My personal goal is to improve in being incisive and allowing others to participate in the happenings of my life, with our family, and in the community here.

Last night, New Year’s Eve, John and I went over to visit his father and sister Kathie with her husband Paul.  We had a nice but brief visit and saw some of Paul’s photograph collection (impressive) including some photos I will certainly share in upcoming posts.  We hopped in the car and returned to our driveway so that we might head two doors down the street.  There, Terry and Alicia Cassell and family hosted a gathering to welcome the new year.  Food, friendliness, prayer, and singing abounded although numbers did dwindle up to the moment of the big switch.  As the ball dropped in New York, cheers were heard indoors and fireworks outdoors!  Happy New Year!

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Cheers!

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As I said in a Christmas letter that has not gone out to all recipients yet, “This year was the first full year we were in the United States since 2007.”  That is a bit amazing.  Here are some highlights, in no particular order.

  • Sharon Southard has moved in with the intention of helping us form Christian household.
  • We hosted the beautiful Castells’ Christmas Carolfest at our house this year – “O Holy Night”!
  • After 10 years, the “guest” room is finally finished (with the assistance of Forbes Home Improvement Inc.).
  • Jane graduated from Trinity at Meadow View and went off to University of Virginia.
  • Maria discovered she had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a form of Hypothyroidism).
  • John constructed a railing for the front porch and enhanced our front walk with Rock Salt lights we brought home from Britain
  • Maria started a part-time job at St. Philip’s church as liturgical assistant – suits her just fine.
  • John began lectoring at the parish.
  • We have just the boys at home which is a big change for our family of 3 girls / 2 boys.   🙂
  • Brand/Elliott beach trip with many young friends at the Hazelton’s Sea-renity beach house in Corolla NC
  • Rose Brand & Chris Marquis got engaged that week… first of our kids’ friends to do that (teary eyes…)
  • We had two 50th year parties. first for Maria then John – SURPRISE!
  • Kathryn studied for a semester abroad in Ecuador!
  • Maria experienced surgery – a thyroidectomy; it went as well as possible and NO CANCER!
  • Our new pastor at St. Philip’s, named Father Denis Donohue, inspires us to work harder for the Lord.
  • The NoVA branch of the People of Praise has redrawn the Area lines; we will meet in the new area configurations very soon.  Our family will be in the “new” South Area.  Exciting!
  • Today (last day of the year) four out of five of our kids will drive to be with Margarita’s family to “ring in” the new year!

God is good as always!

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We bought our house in 2000 with the thought that this room could be for household.  It is a great day that we can live the covenant community life more fully now.  Our housemate’s furniture was indeed moved in on Monday, a few short hours after the completion of the room.  (See photo of the wonderfully transformed household room below.)

Forbes Home Improvement- another fine finished product

The room looks very different now; it seems that a great deal of furniture can fit in a finite space.  But Sharon is happy, having what she needs.  There is plenty of unpacking to be done, but the essential part of our household is in place – we all live here now!

Keep us in mind during the unfolding time of adjustment and settling in.  We are grateful for all the kind wishes and help during the lead-up to the move!

All the believers were together and had everything in common. . . . They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  ~ Acts 2: 44f

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