Thursday, April 21, 2005

Win and I are going to Paris to celebrate our 20th. Why Paris in springtime? Aside from the fact I've wanted to go to Paris since the 1970s and for a romantic place to take one's love in the springtime I can't think of any better? Of course it cost a lot less to go to Paris and stay in the 30th best ranked hotel than it costs to go to San Francisco?

Ok, I'm stretching. I just really wanted to take my wife to Paris.

Am I nervous? Yes, I've never been away from my children this long before. My parents are coming up to watch them, and they are good kids, but I've just never been away.

I'll be back in May. The office will survive without me (in fact, I'm amazingly caught up, just got another zero today -- that makes eleven or twelve on the year, when twelve to fourteen is usually what I do in a year), as Felicia Sorenson says "worse case scenario, the world just keeps on turning, best case scenario, pretty much the same."

But I miss my kids so much already and all they are doing right now is sleeping in the rooms next to me.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Miracles are one of the most problematic experiences in my life.

I could find a world without tangible miracles acceptable. I have friends who believe that God is aware, but does not intervene in this world. In their view, bad things happen, the sparrow falls, but God is mindful, even if his activity is limited to mindfulness and love.

I could live in a world with reliable miracles. As a friend put it, “God as a black box” (a black box is a computer concept – you put in inputs, you get out the same outputs, you don’t need to know what is going on inside) – which really reduces God to a natural force and faith as a sort of engineering. But, as the Calvinists found, it does make the concept of God reliable.

Instead I live in a world where I have experienced real, tangible miracles and known first hand others who have had the same experiences. But I have no way to predict the mind of God, when he will act, when he will withhold his hand, and find myself reading in sympathy when those in the Bible testify that God is real, even if he doesn’t save them in their time of need – an expression of the faith that Job had rather than the faith of Elijah who called down fire from heaven.

We have in scripture stories of God withholding miracles, allowing the innocent to suffer that the guilty may be more fully condemned, with the consolation that God receives the innocent unto himself.

But it makes life harder, in some ways, to know that there are miracles and that God speaks, but that at times the miracle is that there is not one, and the way God speaks is through silence. It makes life so problematic.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

On my new policy of deleting links and no longer visiting sites that have deleted links to my blog, I received the following e-mail, which I'm posting together with my response


I noticed a couple of your comments around the nacle that seem to be closing some doors. I just wanted to make sure things are all right. I certainly understand that we all sometimes need to make some interesting changes. Again, I hope all is well.

My response (with editing):

Thank you for your kind thoughts and concern. It is appreciated.

Last time my life was going this well was 1992, right before everything went south. I used to think of the long Indian Summer of 1992 as the best time in my life, and Christmas of 1992 to New Year's Eve of 1993 as the worst time of my life.

So, there are probably some emotional overlays to the way I'm feeling/acting, especially since when things are going well it now fills me with dread, but the real story is that I realized that people who had linked to me had cut the links out and intended to keep the links cut, others were never going to link back and (most importantly) that I was spending too much time on-line reading blogs.

I decided I needed to close off some time sinks to spend more time where it needed to be spent, and also wanted to be clear why and how I was making the decisions I was making. In a way, everything is arbitrary, but I wanted to at least have some basis for the decisions I made.

So I've cut off from links and posting everyone who cut off their links to me or who said they were going to link and then decided not to. But I did it only after following up and discussing the matter with the people I decided to cut-off from contacts and links.

I have to admit that the link issue is one that has rankled for a while, especially when bcc added a link to "Angry Mormon" and not me, I felt completely and thoroughly snubbed at that point. I link to him because he is in grief and a good example of someone finding a safe place to express natural grief and rage, which some people I know need. Those who have buried children need places to express their emotions.

But I'm not sure how his rage fits in with the theme of bcc and LDS links in general. When I realized they found it more edifying and typical of LDS thought and mores than my site, I realized that I needed to just drop bcc from my ambit.

Anyway, yes, I'm a little emotionally off, but I don't think too badly, given the inputs.

I recently spent a lot of time with my 16 year old as she suddenly regained a lot of missing memories and had severe self-doubt issues about whether she was screwed up beyond repair or not, that sort of thing, but those are just more steps in the process. Especially since she is not screwed up and is the most wonderful child I know.

As for work, and leaving for Paris for better than a week to celibrate our 20th wedding anniversary, yes I feel some stress, but I think everything will go ok at work while I'm gone and I think I've already covered the home issues. At work, everything looks cleared up, passed my file review with flying colors, with any luck they'll have my boss (who I got along with very well) replaced by when I get back (he quit on short notice).

Other than that, I have, for a while at least, given up on the book I was going to write and have realized I've aged out of the chance of teaching. Turning it down when I did, to come back later, pretty much shipwrecked a major goal in life, but life goes on and there were other things that were more important at the time, so it was a decision well made.

There are more important things than personal goals, always.

Appreciate your kindness and concern.



Saturday, April 16, 2005

One surprising thing in my life is the amount of pure animosity my sixteen year old daughter has had to suffer through. Much of it was merely deflected spite, especially from the days people would get nasty with us about having only one child, they would get spiteful with her as well or instead of directly with us (I'm a litigator after all).

She would just turn away, though when I found out or faced the adults, I eventually took to explaining that we had been through seven pregnancies, three funerals and three miscarriages ...

Now with a sixteen year-old and a five year-old we often get comments about the gap, but only from strangers. (I'm no longer as pained or as angry as when I wrote Only One). We gently clear up their concerns and criticisms, though it takes work.

Through all of this, since 1992, the sixteen year-old has gotten a lot of grief, not only from the adults too nasty to be snide directly to her parents, but from other children who think of her as lucky and privileged and safe to beat up on since she is one of the most patient and kind children I know.

Yes, on the one hand she has parents who spend time with her, some wide ranging experiences and is beautiful. Teachers love her. People do things for her.

For example, a friend of ours just gave her a horse and she is now enrolled in an invitation only barn. The the horse is getting a month of intensive training before she starts riding it from a trainer with a year+ long waiting list (the friend is very, er, focused). When I was a kid I'd have been jealous of someone who just got to pet a horse. I was grateful for some used shoes someone gave me. Things like that happen to her and her life does look charmed.

But she has had some terribly tough times, as have we all. She is still recovering memories that she lost after the last of the deaths in our family. She has been through a lot of pain and shared a lot of hardship. But the people who have hated her on sight don't see that. (A number of them have told her they just hated her when they first saw her and decided then and there to just beat her face in).

Eventually she has turned around each of the people she has dealt with who hated her on sight. By patience and communication she has stopped the violence, both verbal and physical over and over again, and been a good friend to her friends. But she would rather not go back to everyone knowing her past (she still remembers being younger and having people point at her as the freak whose older sister just died). That isn't the sort of thing that one wants as a first impression.

I wish she didn't have to experience random jealous hatred in addition to everything else. At least there is a way to turn it, for the most part, but it would be nice if it just did not happen at all. Guess there are a lot of things I wish.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

When Jessica was in her final illness, we transferred from Fort Worth Children's Hospital to Dallas Children's Hospital. Dallas had her on the hopeless list and was talking with us about an experimental program that the doctor didn't think had any value. As soon as she had a lung biopsy they were going to talk the final details with us.

He then left us for the chaplain.

"The Chaplain" was doing a residency. He had his undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology and had discovered that his theology did not have an adequate way of dealing with the suffering that exists in the world and he was very bitter about that. So, as we waited to be told that our daughter was about to die and we could engage in one of two sorts of hopeless treatment, I did my best to console the chaplain sent to us.

After about fifteen minutes of discussion, he asked if we would mind letting him sit in as we were told our daughter was going to die, so he could see how we dealt with it. I apologized for saying no, but I did have it in me to further teach and aid him at that time.

Of course he was uninterested in any further contact with us that did not aid his needs and he did not return (nor did he respond to the letter I dropped him) when he discovered that the biopsy showed lung tissue in surprisingly good shape so that they immediately moved Jessica to ECMO where she remained until her death.

I should say that his supervisor was about as useful as the person she assigned to help us. But that was my close experience with graduate and post graduate education for ministers.

Monday, April 04, 2005

I've been down. First, my PC needed an upgrade, which meant that WindowsXP no longer functioned. That took a week in the shop and a couple days at home to restore everything.

Next, --- disconnected my DSL a week earlier than I requested -- and told me that "sorry, but we can't fix that for two weeks." It then came back up so I'm working on that post.

So, I'm stuck off-line (no access at work) until the 8th of April.

Sorry for all the blank time. I've a post I'm working on that I'll log on with as soon as I'm back. While you wait, read

Also, I am going to start deleting links to sites that have deleted their links to me.