28 September 2006

The incident

WARNING!!! the following are accident pics. You may not want to look at them. They kind of make me ill.

Ours is the green van. We were headed north on IL Rt. 2 behind a tractor trailer. The white car was headed south and crossed over the center line knocking the back axle off the truck, then swung into our path. We hit it going 55-65 miles an hour. Here's what it looked like later, minus the tractor trailer.

The guardrail kept us from the river.

The damage done to the driver's side was from when she hit the semi.

We did the damage to this side.

We're ok and the other driver will be, too. Thank God!!

Another scintillating update

Dennis and I are home from the hospital. The surgeries on our arms went well. The damage on my wrist was much worse than the surgeon originally expected and it took about five hours to reconstruct the two bones with plates and screws. Since they had done a lot of the hard work with Dennis' last surgery, this one went well and as expected. The hospital experience this time was fairly excruciating. Lots of waiting, delays in receiving pain meds, and misplaced meals were all par for the course this time. We were glad to be home.
We are improving slowly but surely in marked ways that are very encouraging. Our sprained ankles are holding more weight more often, bruised ribs are less painful, and we are able to get up and down out of chairs far easier. Today Dennis figured out how to get on the floor and play with Annalivia which did both of them a world of good. And I was able to rock her to sleep and get her in her crib one-armed and only had to drop her a couple of inches ;).
Annalivia has had a hard time today with lots of melt-downs and such. We are hoping tomorrow will be more peaceful for all of us.
We continue to have great help from our parents who have all had to majorly rearrange their lives to be here. The church folks are kicking into gear a dinner brigade and a neighbor came down and mowed the lawn, all of which has been great.
And, of course, we continue to receive well-wishes via virtual and real-life friends in notes and cards and flowers, particularly this gorgeous, gorgeous bouquet of roses from my college friends and dear old pals, Amy, Remy and Sarah.
Anyway, we are here and getting better every single day. Thanks again.

23 September 2006

When the adrenaline wears off...

When the adrenaline wears off, everything hurts. Ribs, fingers, shoulders, belly, legs, rear end... even parts we didn't know we had, hurt. We continue to be thankful for fact we can even feel the hurt, but, I must admit we are getting a little punky.
We have surgery scheduled for both of us on Tues. at Rockford Memorial to fix our arms. We'll be there at least a night, perhaps two for me, depending how the baby is doing. Hopefully, when we come home we can get to work on really feeling better.
Dennis will be off work for about 6 weeks. I'm going to try to get back to the pulpit Oct. 8, but we'll see how it goes. Since neither of us will be driving anytime soon, we're getting our Netflix subscription set up tomorrow. And I'm sure we'll be dealing with insurance companies ad nauseum which will keep us busy.
There are so many of you to whom I should respond individually, but frankly, it takes forever to type anything and, actually, kinda hurts. So, please know that we are SO, so grateful for your concern and prayers. It all means the world to us.

21 September 2006

One handed thanks

Hi, all. Dennis and I are home and will be ok. Dennis is in a wheelchair and we are moving incredibly slowly, but we are alive and lucid except for the influence of Vicodin, and able to look upon and love on our baby girl, so we know all will be well.
I'll try to get on and post an update, or have my lackey/sistah, Kalin, do so every once in a while. We will both have surgery next week on our wrists/ arms and will be in the hospital again for a few days -- maybe even in the same room this time!
Thank you all so, so much for your prayers. The engine compartment of our van was completely destroyed, in fact the engine was on the other side of the guardrail, we hit so hard. I don't rhink there's any chance we should be alive, let alone blogging! I believe we have been covered in prayer for days and that gave us our extra layer of protection! So thank you all. Those words are inadequate to express the gratitude we feel.

20 September 2006

A Post from an Outsider

This is Kalin, the youngest of the McClure 4 (as we are known on the streets and also in the old west).

April and Dennis were in a car accident on Tuesday on their way to the hospital to get the tests done on the baby. They managed to escape with some broken bones from what sounds like a horrible accident.

April said that they were driving on the highway behind a tanker truck when a car coming towards them crossed the center line. It clipped the back of the truck and spun around to be sideways in front of them. April and Dennis had no room to stop as they were only a couple car lengths away and they hit the car going about 55mph. Their van is totalled and the paramedics took pictures of it which the hospital staff have seen. Apey said they keep coming in and saying, "How are you alive?"

April fractured her right arm and sprained her leg and ankle. There was some bleeding, but the baby is OK. They'll operate on Apey's arm as soon as they can work out what kind of anesthesia and such they can use with the baby. The genetic testing will have to wait for a while.

Dennis had a compound fracture in his arm and broke both of his feet. He had surgery on his arm and left foot last night.

April's relaxing in the wing of the hospital created for mothers at risk. She's got a cushy bed, a private bathroom and a window with a view. Dennis is in a different wing on the same floor with an annoying roommate who kept the TV turned on loudly to ESPN until all hours of the night.

They'll be gimping around as best they're able, but since both of them broke their right arms things (IE: updating blogs) are going to be harder rather than easier.

Keep them in your prayers and thank God for protecting them.

Edit: I forgot to mention that Annalivia was not in the car with them. She was staying with Dennis's mom.

18 September 2006

The pressure cooker: my new best friend

Avoiding all topics theological, I have not raved here about my new pressure cooker and the amazing difference it has made to our eat-at-home lives lately. I cannot praise it highly enough. In fact, I will make this shocking generalization... every family needs a pressure cooker.
Mine is the cheap-o version from Farm and Fleet. It cost $29.99, I believe, and is aluminum. If you are interested in getting a pressure cooker and are fazed by the sticker price on the all-clad and stainless steel varieties, heed not those lovelies who will tell you that the aluminum kind simply won't work. For now, it will. Maybe someday, I'll graduate. On the other hand, maybe I'll pass this one on to my children.
ANYWAY, the beautiful thing about a pressure cooker is that it makes previously time-consuming meals incredibly quickly. Which is wonderful for any busy person, but particularly the kind who forget to turn on crock-pots in the morning. Pretty much anything you can make in a crockpot you can make in a pressure cooker in under an hour. And it will taste wonderful. Trust me.
For example, in the three weeks since I've purchased my pressure cooker, I've made two chuck roasts -- one with potatoes and onions cooked together with the meat (done in an hour -- and all these times take into account bring the cooker to pressure and letting the cooker depressurize), the other by itself for 55 minutes, then removed and covered with foil while the pressure cooker cooked potatoes and cauliflower together for 7 minutes which I then mashed with milk, butter and parmesan; pork loin roast covered with apricot jam, cooked for 35 minutes; Indian red lentils, cooked for 15 minutes and eaten over rice; chicken breasts and rice with cream soup and mushrooms, cooked for 17 minutes; chicken broth, cooked for 30 minutes with onions, carrots, celery, etc. (it tasted like it had stewed for hours!). Check out pressure cooker recipes online to see the variety of what you can make!
All of these meals would have taken hours in the oven which in turn, would have heated up the house and used quite a bit of energy. I love that I can have these comfort foods on the table in so little time and with so little effort -- I put the ingredients in the pressure cooker and let it come to pressure, turn down the heat and turn on the timer. Then I can make salad or a side dish and we can still eat very quickly after the food goes in the cooker.
Tonight I'm making Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Potato soup from frozen chicken thighs because tomorrow it will be cold here -- only 50 for a high-- and we will be getting in from the hospital and testing a little late. So right now the house smells absolutely delicious and tomorrow we won't have to worry about anything other than heating up the pot and adding some rolls and a salad.
If any of you have a pressure cooker and have recipes you'd like to share, I'd LOVE to receive them!!
In the meantime, here's one for you!

Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Potato Soup
4 chicken thighs, stewed and deboned
5 cloves garlic
1 onion
2 potatoes peeled
1 can cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained
1/2 -1 tsp. rosemary (or if you are fortunate enough to have Herbes de Provence on hand, for goodness sake, use that!)
1/2 t. fresh black pepper
1 t. salt
1 T butter
4-5 cups chicken stock

If you haven't cooked the chicken, add it, the garlic, onion, rosemary, salt and pepper to your cooker. Cover with stock. Bring to pressure and cook 10 minutes -- 20, if frozen. Release pressure with quick cool method (running water over the edge of the cooker). Remove thighs, debone, strain stock and add back to cooker, mince onion and garlic. Add back the chicken.
If you're using leftover chicken, saute the garlic and onion in a little olive oil. Add stock and chicken.
Peel and cut the potatoes into 2 inch sections and add to the pot. Add beans. Add butter.
Cover and bring to pressure. Cook 6 minutes. Use quick-cool method and release pressure. Enjoy.
(You can also add a couple handfuls chopped escarole, endive, or kale and return soup to heat until wilted.)
This is great topped with parmesan and accompanied by a salad and rolls!

Oh, and you can also cook this all in a pot, if you'd like. Cook til potatoes are done. It's still delicious, just not quite as fast!!

17 September 2006

Because some things AREN'T better IRL (in real life)

Tonight I was talking to my friend, Jimmy, who had apparently spent some time reading this here blog. In the course of conversation he said, "You know, you really come off quite well on that blog. If I didn't know you myself, I'd be terribly impressed."
Precious, isn't he?

15 September 2006

Does God want you to be rich?

I've been slowly reading my way through our latest issue of Time. This is the cover story: Does God Want You to Be Rich? You can read an abstract from CNN here. (Shame on Time for not making the entire article available.)
It's interesting that Prosperity thinking is on the rise at the same time that the Crunchy Con and Emergent movements seem to be addressing the same target group with completely differently oriented messages.
I plan to add more thoughts when I actually have any mental clarity, but in the meantime I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who has read the article or has knowledge/ understanding of/ or experience with the movements mentioned above.

A Frivolously Famous Friday Five

From the RevGals, a Friday Five of frivolity -- something needed this week.

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.

I met Tom Everett Scott and Steve Zahn at Red, Hot, and Blue in Lexington, KY when I was in seminary. I was eating dinner with my friend Melissa, and realized who they were and worked up the courage to ask Tom for his autograph by saying, "Hey, you're Tom Everett Jones, aren't you?" Didn't occur to me to get Steve Zahn's autograph because I was blushing and flustered and unintelligible in the first place and secondly, I'm a big dork. They were very gracious then got the heck out of there. They're both far cuter in real life, by the way.
My latest brush with greatness came last year when I was at a local restaurant with our clergy group at Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) came in to speak with the local Chamber of Commerce. My daughter had a dirty diaper and was fussing, so I went to the restroom with her. While in there, I heard his aides praising the hand dryers. When I emerged, he said hello and then his aides began talking about how beautiful Annalivia was. He started towards her and we headed outside, not because I have anything against the guy, but I had a very fussy child. She didn't need to be political fodder at that moment.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.

Well, knowing I'd be far too nervous and intimidated to actually speak to anyone I met, I'd love to meet Anne Lamott and just absorb her presence. Or Madeline Albright. I like listening to her. Or Ira Glass.
Less cerebrally, I'd love to meet Clive Owen, my celebrity boyfriend. We've been dating since he was in the Mystery series, Second Sight, and that's a long time to carry on a relationship with someone without the other person knowing.

3. Tell us about someone great who's NOT famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.

I think everyone should meet my grandfather. And my sistahs. And my husband and daughter.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?

No, I unfortunately lost Tom Everett Scott/Jones' autograph about 24 hours after I got it. Oops.

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?

Philanthropic greatness, I guess. Or having really kind children.

14 September 2006

Late night thoughts on arrogance

It is 3:12 here and I've been up for about an hour. Wide awake -- cannot sleep. My mind is racing and yet, I'm so tired. I need to get back to bed.
However, I've been thinking about arrogance and how I have been and probably will be guilty of gross arrogance throughout my life. This has been brought into sharp focus for me as we've pondered the possibility that something is really wrong with our baby. I've realized my arrogance of assumption that I would have a healthy baby, my belief that I could prevent something being wrong if I just did everything "right", my belief that somehow I'd have the answers to whatever would come next...
I've also realized the arrogance I've applied to others. I've thought that I have answers for them, that I would handle situations better than they have, that my solutions and thoughts would clearly make their lives much better if they were somehow just able to receive my superior wisdom...
And most of all, I've realized the theological arrogance that I've bought into. I've realized this before, but in talking to people in my congregation and hearing how they perceive God to be working both in their own lives and in the life of my family, I realize that often I have dismissed their views as lesser than my own. What I often haven't realized is that the theology they hold close brings them peace and comfort. The theology they hold has, in most cases, been earned by more suffering, pain, joy -- by more life than I have, or may ever, experience.
My arrogance is humbling and humiliating. I don't know why I've needed to define myself in superior smug self-satisfaction, when clearly I am neither superior nor self-satisfied and any smugness is a facade.
The truth is -- I have no answers, really. I don't know how to handle what comes next. I am groping to find God in the midst of all my fears and anxiety.
In short, there is no room for arrogance here. And that -- well, that is very scary.

12 September 2006

Possible prenatal problems

There have been better days...
Today, on the drive home from the cemetery after the burial for my great-uncle, Jerry, I got a call from the nurse at my OB's office telling me Dr. Stone wanted to speak with me. FYI, it's not a good thing when the doctor wants to speak with you herself.
Anyway, turns out that my quad screen test showed a very high risk for Trisomy 18. The test said the risk factor is 1:10, however the numbers apparently just aren't good.
So, next Tuesday (a whole freaking week!!) Dennis and I will go to Rockford Memorial to meet with a geneticist and then have an amniocentesis. Normally a Level II ultrasound is done before the amnio to look for markers, however because of the numbers I've opted to do the amnio.
After that, we have to wait a week to get preliminary results and then 3 (three!!) weeks to find out for sure what is going on.
And then we'll figure out what's next.
I'd appreciate any and all prayers.

11 September 2006

Well, knock me over with a feather...

...and that's really saying quite something...
We Disciples are apparently organized enough to have a blog ring! I am astonished and astounded and immediately signed up, though now the pressure to post something relevant, or at least, responsible is on.
This adds a level of accountability heretofore unknown on this here blog. We Disciples are only about 800,000 strong. You can't throw a rock at an assembly without hitting someone you know. I'm now on notice. But quite excited by it. Really.

10 September 2006

Getting kicked around

I remember when I was pregnant with Annalivia waiting anxiously for that first flutter that would indicate she was actually in there and moving around. I think it came about 18 weeks and for the longest time, I was bewildered by what was going on.
This time around, at 17 weeks, Littler McStew has been relentlessly pummeling his/her momma for the last month. But today in church -- oh my goodness!! I think this kid has a bone to pick or something!
It is funny how less than two years have passed and I've already forgotten what it was like with Annalivia. I don't remember sharp jabs and round ligament pain. I don't remember overwhelming tiredness or the forgetfulness I experience now. I do remember time passing incredibly slowly and feeling very unsure about what comes next.
This afternoon, Annalivia and I are getting ready to head down south to my hometown to prepare for the funeral for my great-uncle Jerry. Annalivia is so old now and I can't help but look at her as she pulls her clothes out of the drawers to "help" me pack and think about how she was swimming in those newborn outfits a year and a half ago. As she sprawls across me when I rock her before her nap, I think about her curled up under my chin when she was first born. I'm glad I get a second chance to take note of all those things again. Maybe this time I'll actually remember.

09 September 2006

Tired and also weary, and yes, those are different things

Today was church cleanup day. I did almost jack-squat, having been commanded by my doctor to take it easy for a couple of days on Tuesday, and having milked that comment for all it was worth to get out of a board meeting among other things. I spent the first three hours chasing my child, making coffee and arranging snacks for the other workers. In the last hour I finally picked up a spade and did some edging interspersed with frequent reminders to Annalivia to not go into the street and because I am a big slug, my shoulders hurt from that scant activity. So I'm tired.
And I'm weary. My great-uncle, Jerry, passed away this weekend and on Tuesday, I'll be celebrating his life by officiating at the funeral. Uncle Jerry was a fixture in my life growing up, part of most family parties and always included in the god-bless song, but I never really knew him as an individual in my adult life. I'm sorry that it is only in death that I'll get to know him.
I am, however, honored that my great-aunt Audrey has asked me to celebrate his life and honored that I get to serve my family in this way. I've shared with other clergy that I'm doing this funeral and I've also shared with clergy colleagues that I have verbally contracted to celebrate the lives of my other elderly relatives when the time comes, including my dear grandfather and grandmother. This tends to freak some of my clergy colleagues out and I get little mini lectures about letting go of control, and allowing others to minister to me in my grief and blah blah blah.
I know that these comments are generally motivated out of concern for my well-being, but I don't seem to be able to communicate how this position of celebrant is such a sacred duty -- one that is, of course, very difficult -- but one that is also very important to me. I have been trusted by my family to lift up our beloveds' souls, to hold forth those memories that refract our beloveds' meaning and personhood. It is what I do in my heart and head anyway. To have that recognized by my family and to have them allow me to do it for them when they are unable to do it for each other -- I see that as a real gift from them.
Anyway, this is the first of these occasions and I am weary from last week's funeral and this week's hospital calls and tired from total-lack-of-cleanup and minor prenatal uterine activity, so I'm praying for strength and stamina to be able to perform this very sacred service for my aunt and cousin and the rest of my family and honor Jerry with the words and emotion they are trusting I can.

08 September 2006

Friday Five

The RevGalBlogPals have a weekly Friday Five game going. Here are five things I enjoyed this week:
1. Labor day at home in Eureka.
2. A couple of really, really good naps
3. Very nice weather and the discipline to leave the air conditioner off
4. Mighty fine sugar cookies
5. Driving down to school with Dennis last night

You can find other Friday Fives by checking out the RevGalBlogPal site here.

07 September 2006

Some realtively unformed thoughts on "literal meaning"

Thanks to another provocative discussion at the CH forums, I have realized that I have a difficulty getting over the word, "literal" when someone says, "I believe the Bible is literal" or "I take the Bible literally."
I know what they mean. They mean -- the Bible is true, inspired, infallible. But the word "literal" is so very difficult here.
The things is, language is, by its very nature, representative, which means that it will ALWAYS need to be interpreted. And though some might argue that, well, yes, of course, language is interpreted, but we all KNOW what words really mean, I would point out that all of us, at some time or another, have misinterpreted the language that is very clearly set before us. How many of us have read an email from a dear friend and missed the humor or sarcasm therein? Or how many of us have read a post by someone we don't know and have inferred something about their character or compassion by their writings?
When it comes to the Bible, I do believe the Bible is inspired by God. And I could even say that I believe that what God inspired is infallible -- without error. I believe it to be unquestioningly true. However, the Bible has been interpreted by fallible humans for over 2500 years. Even if we believe the Holy Spirit gives us the power to interpret, we are still human. We are still imperfect beings trying to glean from language, some of which has been copied and re-copied and translated and re-translated for over 20 centuries, a representation of God, who is beyond all human representation and comprehension.
And this -- this reminder that we can only grasp small glimpses of God in metaphors and representations -- this is what most of all, bothers me about the word, "literal." God simply IS NOT literal. God is beyond literal. God is beyond what humans can possibly conceive of as fact, meaning, truth, exactness, etc.
All of this is absolutely, unequivocally, not to say that the Bible is meaningless. It is FULL of meaning. I would just posit that the meaning is far greater than we will ever, ever, ever understand. God is revealed and is being revealed in our reading of the text, but we will never, ever get to grasp God's fullness until we are Home.
To say that the Bible can be understood "literally" seems to me to imply that we grasping it IS attainable. That if we just study and pray and dig enough, someday, we'll "get it."
What I personally find is that the more I study the Bible, the more I learn about the language, the bigger God seems. The bigger the process appears. The bigger the picture represented by the words. I begin to understand why Paul said, "now we see only in part, then we will see the whole."
So as I've been turning over these thoughts in my head and pondering the nature of this most instructive and revealing of books I think I've realized that, the more I read the Bible, the less and less "literal" it seems to me.
But, of course, that could just be this weirdo...

06 September 2006

Recipe: Really good, but not quite "it" sugar cookies

I made some sugar cookies yesterday that were really quite delicious. They aren't, however, what I've been craving. The cookies I've been craving are from a lady in our church who makes these amazing, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies. She offers to give me the recipe whenever I ooh-and-aahhhh, but she never follows through. Even if I call her and ask her for it, she finds some reason to put off handing down the recipe.
ANYWAY, these cookies are not quite Ruth's but are as close as I've come. I'm going to try adding 1 teaspoon cream of tartar next time and see how that changes the flavor if favor of the recipe in my head. Regardless, these are delicious and very easy and don't even have to be refrigerated, which is great if you are ENFP like me and don't generally plan beyond the end of your nose, let alone 24 hours before cookies are to be baked.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened, but not TOO soft
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla (or double it or add almond extract or lemon extract -- all delicious)
Cream all together
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix together and add to the creamed mix.
Either refrigerate, or go ahead and roll into balls, then roll in sugar and flatten with hand or bottom of glass. Bake in the upper half of a 375 degree oven for about 8 minutes. These will spread out quite a bit and the bottom will brown very fast.
Allow to cool for about a minute on the pan, then remove!
Enjoy with milk or hot tea or plain!

Photos, photos, photos

We've had such a good time enjoying this fall weather around here with a couple trips to the park in the last week. Last Thursday, Dennis took the day off so that he could finish a paper and I could do work on a funeral. After I spent the morning at church and he spent the morning with Annalivia, we all went out to the park for lunch.
Here we enjoy an ultra- nutritious lunch.

Annalivia learned how to climb up and down the steps to the play equipment.

Then she learned how to go down the slide by herself. The static on her hair was hilarious.

On Labor Day, Annalivia and I went down to Eureka to give Dennis some time to study. We got to spend the end of Labor Day with the aunts and cousins. This is my youngest sister, Kalin with Annalivia. Kalin is universally adored by her neices and nephews, though she does absolutely nothing to merit such devotion. I try to take pictures of her holding Annalivia whenever possible. I have two such photos. In this one, she's actually smiling.

We met over at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington and ate Avanti's subs for dinner. Here are cousin Rhys (Marissa's son) and cousin Cleya (Lil's daughter).

We did some playing, too.

Annalivia enjoyed swinging.

The highlight, though, were these stairs that allowed Annalivia to go up AND DOWN them like a big girl. She went up and down about 30 times.

The cousins had a pretty good time together.

And here's Kalin and Rhys being best friends. She really is a great aunt.

05 September 2006


If you want to see some interesting/ challenging/ moving God stuff, check out this blog. There are some good things in there!

Another glimpse of the man I married

On Saturday at a funeral, an older lady in our congregation told me that she hopes that this baby will be a boy and that we'll name him, "Enough."
While I hate comments like that (i.e. 'I hope you're through!' or 'You don't need more than two children!') I haven't really figured out a way to respond to them. I was telling Dennis about this and my dilemma in figuring out how to respond and he said, "Well, I would have said, 'Don't worry. You'll probably be dead by the time we have number three!'"
I guess there's a reason he's not the pastor.

03 September 2006

When sensible shoes return

There are a hundred reasons that I am rejoicing that fall is just around the corner, not least of which is that I get to start wearing my comfortable and sensible, yet funkily hip shoes again! My sister Lil discovered these and immediately indoctrinated the sistahs as to their efficacy when it comes to arch support, as well as their hipness. (Lil is very hip. We don't doubt her when she speaks.) Now Marissa and I both have Keens also, and although Kalin is holding out, we know that eventually she'll topple and be dragged into our like-minded shoe-wearing. It's really futile to resist, Kali.
Anyway, it's crazy how I get so excited over the little things, but these didn't really work in the summer months and my feet have paid for it. Today as I kicked out the heels I've been wearing for the last two days, I thought, 'gosh darn it, fall is almost here and the time for socks and funky maryjanes is right 'round the corner! Hurrah!!'
Hurrah, indeed.

01 September 2006

Just when you think they've got it all figured out...

They don't.
Isn't it amazing how so many of us spend so much time and effort searching for answers and solutions and tips and tricks and models and methods?
And, inevitably, we find that all along, whatever answer we really wanted someone else to provide for us had to be uncovered or discovered by our own searching and wondering and prayer?
I'm reminded that we are beautifully and wonderfully made and what works for even the dearest sister or brother in Christ, may not be the mold into which we are to be pressed.
Lovely. And frustrating and terrifying, too. But mainly -- lovely.