Monday, December 21, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just be glad you have a job.

Since this recession began, I've heard a number of people comment about someone else's employment situation: "He should just be glad he has a job." Well, yes, there is some wisdom in that statement, especially considering that a small city nearby, the unemployment rate is 17%, although it has gone down below 8% in the rest of this state.

I've heard about my friend's daughter who has a high profile job that her college degree prepared her for: she earns only a little above minimum wage. She has to look at this job as a stepping stone to a bigger and better position elsewhere.

I've observed what has happened to my son in his young work life. He worked at an entry level position for a company where he had interned. The pay was decent and there were benefits, but they broke promises to him about helping him financially to get classes so that he could take on more responsibility.

Then he got a "management" position at a large Big Box Store (no, not Wal-mart.) The pay was poor, considering that he had to have a specific college degree to get that job, and if you wanted benefits, you had to pay for them, which is hard to do when your pay is way less than it costs to attend college for a year. BTW, the owner of this business is a billionaire. But at least my son had some income, even it hardly covered his expenses.

Next he got some pick up work involving scraping and painting apartments. The pay had no tax subtracted from the gross amounts and the apartment owner had no building permits. There were no provisions for safety of the workers. And, oh yes, these apartments are in one of the most upscale areas of the city where many buildings are owned by this one man. But at least my son had a job. For two months.

My son moved to another part of the US where many people work for minimum wage, although that is higher than it is here. He got a job in a Big Italian Restaurant Chain, which pays whatever the lowest legal wage is, depending on which state they are in. Where he is, they pay $2.13/hour because there are tips. Yes, that is correct, I verified this on that state's website. The people tip 10% if the waiter is lucky. That wage is down more than $1/hour compared to two years ago. In this state, minimum wage in $6.25/ hour or $5.25/ hour, depending on the size of the company. How is it that the same restaurant chain can pay $4/hour less for the same work, just because the building is in another state? Oh, that's right, don't question, just be glad he has a job.

Well, Son was also applying elsewhere, and one place called him back for three additional interviews, but would not tell him what the salary would be. Then he was offered the job. It was a job with a good company and included benefits, but the salary offered was surprisingly low, considering that this is a lower management position. After thinking it over, my son decided he could probably do better as a waiter, so he said no because of salary reasons. Well, surprise! The manager called him back and offered him the position at a salary of 25% higher. Now I am glad that my son has a job.

During this recession I've come to the conclusion that the owners of companies, who may be making less than before, but who aren't starving, use the economic climate to get people to think, "At least I have a job." Wages are kept low and the wealthy owners can keep their accustomed life style.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Helen again is her sharp witted opinionated self. On 24 hour news: " News as it is happening is not news. It’s an observation without much thought. " And that's one of the mild opinions. See the blog in which Helen records her wry comments about the political scene. Click on Margaret and Helen: Margaret and Helen

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Single payer health insurance mandated by the government...???

Article 31 of the Iraqi Constitution, drafted by the Bush administration in 2005 and ratified by the Iraqi people, includes state-guaranteed (single payer) healthcare for life for every Iraqi citizen.

read about it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

$1800 View




Yes, there is a story behind why I had this view, but I'm not sharing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Priorities, keep the straight!

Many years ago, my grandmother cut this poem out of a newspaper, made a notation,"how true," in the side column, sent it to her cousin, and eventually got it back.  Somehow it came into my possession.  I've treasured it.  My grandmother DID have her priorities straight in life when I knew her.  She was a lot of fun and admired by many friends.
 
Of Things That Are
    Lovely and Fleeting
 
The dust on the piano keeps better
    than the flashing
Of loveliness, keeps better than
    the clean slant of wings
Across the cool garden, where the
    honeysuckle berries
Call the brown song sparrow that
    balances and sings.
 
The undone ironing keeps better
    than the beauty
Of the star-hung plum tree in
    the drying yard,
And the undarned socks will out-
    last the radiance
Of a sunset's glory to its last
    bright shard.
 
The tarnish on the spoons keeps
    better than the mischief
In a wee girl's eyes or the sun-
    light on her hair,
And the stacked supper dishes will
    long outlast the clinging
Of a small boy's arms and his little
    whispered prayer.
 
Ah, life is so short and the earth
    is so beautiful,
And boys and girls are children for
    such a little while--
So we run n the orchard and look
    for the four-leafed clovers,
And we know a spotless house isn't
    worth a baby's smile.
 
By Leona Ames Hill
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Work toward improving outcomes and don't spread lies.

This article is a physician's view of the arguing and division and contention about the health care issues among the politicians. Quote from the article:

In health care, we improve outcomes by working as an integrated team as well as through respectful and constructive competition. This never involves spreading lies about our colleagues' opinions or motivations. We are able to respectfully disagree, compromise and work toward the best interests of our patients, regardless of personal and philosophical differences.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Against Government Involvement in Health Care? Oh, are you really against Medicare?

While watching some of the news coverage yesterday, I saw the reporters putting the microphone in from of some of the protesters in Washington. Several of these people were clearly senior citizens, and several of them said that the government shouldn't be involved with our health care.

My reaction: YOU HYPOCRITES!

I think these people are taking for granted their Medicare benefits. They are potentially entitled to more financial compensation (Medicare as insurance payments) for their medical care then they have paid and are paying into the Medicare pot. The rest of the wage earners are paying with the Medicare deduction from their paychecks.

Senior citizens are more likely to need prescription medications than younger people. Now, thankfully, there is Medicare D, which helps pay for this benefit. One of my relatives was complaining about the "doughnut hole" in Medicare D. Yes, there is a significant out of pocket expense after a certain dollar amount is reached. But isn't she forgetting that in the previous years, after her husband lost his medical insurance, she was paying for ALL of these medications out of pocket? At one time she told me that she and her husband were paying about $500/month for prescriptions.

Patients who have certain conditions need to have lab tests periodically to make sure certain blood levels are in a healthy range. Medicare patients don't have to worry as much about the costs.

End of life illnesses often mean very high medical costs for the last year of life. Much of this is covered by Medicare, and if the patient also has a Medicare Supplement insurance policy, his family isn't stuck with a big debt after the patient passes away.

I think we take for granted a number of quality of life issues these days because of Medicare. Think of all the people you know who have had knee or hip replacements. The surgeries and hospital after care are expensive. The patients go to physical therapy to speed the recovery and increase the chances that the patients will have good mobility in the following years. They may get more enjoyment of life during their golden years if they can walk comfortably and play with their grandchildren. Joint replacement patients who are seniors can spend a few days in a rehabilitative nursing home immediately following release from the hospital if they wish, which often speeds the recovery and therapy. Who could afford these surgeries and therapies pre Medicare, when many people would have no insurance at all after retirement? One man I know, who is clearly "not poor" had an accident which severely injured his hip. He got by with reduced mobility so that he could wait until he qualified for Medicare before he had his hip replacement surgery.

Medicare patients who live in a nursing home are seen by a doctor every month, or in some practices, by a physician every other month, and a CNP on the off month. Those nursing home patients who are not on Medicare don't fall under a doctor visit requirement. Elderly nursing home patients get therapy evaluations when they enter the nursing home, paid for, of course, by Medicare.

Are there problems with Medicare? Of course. And we know that through the years the percentage of the costs paid for by Medicare has shrunk, which is a concern. But the purpose of this post is to highlight areas of care that we might be taking for granted after so many years of Medicare.

I am basing the above information on my own knowledge. I was a certified insurance counselor, helping senior citizens with coordinating their insurance coverage for several years. I have the personal knowledge of dealing with my mother's finances, especially with her medical bills. Actually, there have been no problems with the Medicare and supplemental insurance payments. I've seen my mother-in-law have a hip fracture, replacement, and nursing home care, and be able to have a very high quality of life afterwards. Actually, due to falls, she has been in the nursing home three times, gotten therapy, and moved back home each time. I doubt she would have recovered as well if there hadn't been the therapy paid for by Medicare.

And I've had extensive discussion with a Family Physican who is also board certified in Geriatrics and who has extensive experience with nursing home patients. His assesment of Medicare is that it requires care for a lot of people who would be neglected or overlooked without it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Interesting take on excluding illegal aliens from health care benefits.

According to this article, the 2005 law excluding illegal aliens from Medicare has had "interesting" consequences, including high costs as well as the *possible* exclusion of lots of the rest of us. This may be a bit of hyperbole, but it is good to remember that there are costs related to the administration of exclusion as well as to inclusion.

Health insurance company profits

Some people are old enough to get away with being blunt!

Just a taste of this:
Folks, let me tell you something about healthcare and health insurance. There are a couple of ways to make a buck in the game. One way is to systematically deny coverage to anyone with a propensity to get sick as evidenced by past occurrences. The other way is to spread the risk over the largest population possible effectively minimizing the impact of the most risky. But there is one way for sure to lose a buck – keep increasing the number of people who can’t pay their bill. It’s really quite simple. A public option means insurance companies will report profits using language like “impressive” and “satisfactory” rather than “awesome” and ”a buttload of moolah!”

Supposedly the CEO of the health insurance company that I use has a several million dollar/year salary, plus $95 million in stock options. But I don't even know what stock options are, so what does that mean to me? But it must be legal, because the attorney general of my state won a lawsuit against this company and already got them to clean up their act. How many people who get their applications rejected for pre-existing conditions would that cover?

And talk about pre-existing conditions.... a good friend's child had strep throat, about a year after switching insurance companies, due to a change of employment. Well, guess what? The child had had strep throat in the past, so they declared it a pre-existing condition and rejected the claim. Strep throat, dear claims examiner, is not a chronic condition normally, so it really can't be a pre-existing condition in the general meaning of that terminology.

My friend's employer (major health care delivery organization, meaning clinics and hospitals) deleted her department. She was hired by an independent small company. She doesn't earn health insurance there, so she is paying for COBRA coverage, meaning, paying independently for her previous insurance. She can't afford to let it go, given that she really does have a pre-existing condition, namely, two cancers that were cured. The premiums she pays now are HALF of her entire SALARY. She is a health care professional, so her pay isn't peanuts. What to do? Her husband may take on a part time job just to pay for the insurance.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Newscasters and Reporters

There are so many news shows on TV, 24/7, plus the network news show, plus the local news shows that, I believe, there are a lot of reporters who aren’t quite up to what I would consider a minimum professional level. 

 

On one of the morning shows, the renowned anchor constantly asked a “fact filled” question, putting words into the mouth of the subject, leading him in a preconceived direction rather than letting him speak. 

 

On another network, the anchor, who I really like personally, asks questions that solicit emotional answers, but the anchor shows his own bias by making sympathetic remarks to the subject at the end of the interview.  These remarks are not out of line on a human level, but don’t fit any kind of mold where the reporter is trying to be unbiased. 

 

On the 24/7 news networks, the so-called news shows have “personalities” who go back and forth across the line between giving the news and commentating on the news.  I don’t mind those who clearly state their biases and editorialize overtly; that’s fair to the viewers.  But on some of the shows, the news people don’t draw the line.  I don’t think they see the line.  I always wonder if these people, who come out so clearly on one side or the other, are speaking for themselves, or if they are speaking for the moneyed people who own the network.  I wonder how much independent research they do before giving their pronouncements. 

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Right, The Left, is there any Center?

Whose "right" anyway? Can you be right if you are Left? Can you be civil if you are Right or Left? Here's a good essay on the discourse of the day.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Quotes that seem to sum up the news of the day. Darn it all.

Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.
- Evan Esar
There is no such thing as an underestimate of average intelligence.
- Henry Adams
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
- H. P. Lovecraft

These quote were the quotes of the day on my Google page.

Electronic Medical Records, next

When I was at the consultant clinic recently, as mentioned in the previous post, I received a computer printout, handed to me as I left, of what had transpired during the visit. On that paper was written that I was to receive a new prescription, as discussed during the visit. It was never discussed. It was for a supplement that I've used for years, because my body doesn't processes this chemical efficiently. Too much or too little can cause a person to have major health problems. My intention has been to point out this error during my next visit, which won't be for another month and a half from the first visit.

Meanwhile, I went to my local pharmacy yesterday to pick up my normal prescriptions, which should include the supplement mentioned above. All well and good, until I realized that I was being given TWO additional bottles of this prescriptions. Fortunately, I knew better than to buy this and use it.

I know what happened. The admitting nurse at the consultant clinic had entered my prescriptions into the computer and inadvertently entered that this was a new prescription. The computer automatically, with no human oversight, sent the prescription to my pharmacy. To my dismay, there also seems to have been no human oversight in getting the "schedulers" at that clinic to call me to schedule future appointments and tests. Let's just say: Grrrrrr.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Electronic Medical Records

The topic of electronic medical records has been big in the news. Our governor is pushing for it in all state health care facilities. It might even be required. Supposedly, nationally, "EMR" will save a lot of money and make medical care more coordinated, thereby making it "better." All these things remain to be seen.
I like computers and I do think that, ideally, EMR would be an improvement, but like all things in life, it can be a mixed blessing. I've had several personal encounters with EMR that show the downside and pitfalls, but the previous system, all in all, was probably worse.
A couple of years ago, my son went to a clinic, had a cursory check up and test, and got a prescription. We got the bill, insurance EOB, etc, and paid our portion of the bill. Our son had to go for a few monthly rechecks, so there were more bills, but the next statements were for much higher amounts. We questioned the higher fees by asking him what exactly was done at each visit, and we also wrote to the clinic. The clinic manager replied that the fees were justified by what the doctor had done at the visits, based on the charts. Our son OK'd release of the records, which showed a complete history and physical at each visit, which my son said was not done. We had the records reviewed by a physician, who agreed that the doctor could not possibly have done what he said was done within the time frame that was electronically recorded on the records, plus the time frame on the records agreed with my son's recollections. And the supposed H&Ps were not justified. When confronted, the clinic and doctor agreed that the doctor had used the EMR incorrectly, that is, he just checked off that he had reviewed every bodily system completely. They refunded the charges and corrected the records, and stated that they were going to review all the charts from that doctor.
I have been a patient at the same clinic for many years. My paper record files are quite large, so that looking up any thing old is inefficient. Ideally, a physician will keep a record on the front cover or front page of the current medications and problems. Not all physicians are that organized. My clinic converted to EMR a year ago. My yearly visit was on the first day of the new system, so they hoped I would be patient, which I was, but it was easy to see the pitfalls. First, somebody had put some of the old records into the system. Imagine how expensive it must be to input lots of old files. I had to fill out a paper form with a list of my medications, over the counter meds, as well as past surgeries, etc. It was like just like the paperwork one fills out when going to a new clinic. This was then entered into the computer by a clerk. Obviously there is a great chance for error or omission in my memory. There is even a chance for deliberate omission. The good side of my clinic's system is that the computer sent me a letter after the visit listing the results of my blood tests as well as the meanings of the values. I also got a note from my doctor, so I knew that a real person had reviewed the tests.
Recently, I went to a certified nurse practitioner at another clinic. Before I saw her, I had to fill out papers, just like I mentioned above. Then nurse entered all the lists of medications, previous surgeries, etc. into the computer. Then the CNP did a very thorough history and checkup. She entered a number of things into her computer, which printed out a paper for me. It told what we talked about, what was recommended that I try, what tests were ordered, plus my list of medications, and notations about past immunizations, etc. I was impressed with this printout. For one thing, I can't remember the medical jargon or the names of tests I don't understand, but now I have them listed in writing. Secondly, it let me see that there might have been a couple of misunderstandings in my communication with the CNP. But since this isn't my primary clinic, there were gaps in my record. It looks like, for example, that I've way out of date on immunizations and certain types of normal yearly checkups.
The CNP is talking about a specific test that I may have, but it involves some medications. I believe I've had these medications in the past, but, of course, I don't know specific names, amounts, etc, but I know I've had some very uncomfortable reactions. I decided to write a request for past records so that I can be sure about what meds I'd rather not have. I received a packet in the mail for a company whose business is going through old medical records.(??) This contained photo copies of exactly what I asked for, so I expected it to be helpful. Well, the suspect medications were clearly listed. But there were no amounts given listed. On all the pages but one, the notations were in various handwritings, some quite messy, or barely legible. I really don't think this will be helpful.
The next point has to be handwriting vs. typing. Typed notes are clearly better for future use by other people. In the past, some doctors just wrote, or scribbled, notes into their charts. Some doctors dictated their notes, which were then transcribed by somebody else, and, if the doctor was compulsive, the notes were read and countersigned by him/her. Medical transcription is a dying art, not taught in schools as in the past. These days, the doctor has to type his own notes. The plus side is that they should be readable and they should be correct since he/she can see them as he/she types. [Yes, some doctors do use a program such as Dragon Speak to avoid the typing.] The down side is that we are paying doctor's salaries to the typist. EMRs do contain a number of features that can streamline the charting process if the doctor knows how to use them. Some EMR programs necessitate that the doctor must finish the record before signing off, which would mean that the doctor could be late for the next patient or, OTOH, that a particular doctor still uses old note taking methods and goes to the computer later in the day or week to finish the records, which, of course, undermines the value of the EMR system.
Lastly, to be at their best, either all clinics and hospitals have to use the same EMR system or the systems have to be compatible. When I was going to see the consultant/specialist, my basic records should go with me, but they didn't. I had to tell them about my history and my doctor had to include a few photocopied pages of tests with his introduction letter. Obviously, this is still very inefficient.
In the long run, if EMR is used by all clinics, hospitals, and doctors to the fullest extent, records should be more complete, efficient, and useable. Doctors should be able to look at charts showing trends of testing, for example, rather than just looking at a number of screens showing various values of test results. At this point, much of EMR is just using the computer instead of paper, the computer being a glorified typewriter. There are doctors still resisting using the computer for their recordkeeping. There are the usual computer hassles we all have run into that does make us suspicious of keeping important documentation in the never-land of digital information. EMR is far from an ideal system, but the thick stack of papers, possibly disorganized, in a tradtional medical chart, with many notes handwritten, seems to have even more drawbacks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Need a job?


Three in my family are currently looking for work. I should send them to this place.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering a civil America

Here's a blog that tells it like it is. The writer is too old to worry about being anything other than "frank."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Well of Course, Ted Kennedy

Whenever a famous person dies, the TV networks go all out with tributes and commentaries and old movies and video of the person. So often I learn more than I knew before or I learn about some of the quiet traits of a person. Sometimes the descriptions don't match my memories, so I wonder.

When the list of the causes that Ted Kennedy supported, worked for, fought for, and even took risks for came on the TV screen today, I said to myself, "Well, of course." By that I meant, well of course a person would be against the war; well of course, a person would want to help people with disabilities; of course, a person would work against apartheid. The list was quite long.

So many of these things that Kennedy promoted, and worked for, are things that people now take for granted. Hindsight is wonderful; it lets us forget that some things were just not there for certain groups at one time. We forget that some people, not just senators, went out on a limb for certain causes, even suffering for a cause. We get to take good things for granted. There may also be things that I disagree with or ideas that are good, but the implementation is problematic. But all in all, Kennedy worked to make life better for many people.

About the time that Reagan was president, Ted Kennedy was promoting a single payer health care system. I was adamantly against this. I had selfish reasons. With the benefit of age, I can see now how strained out current health care PAYMENT system is, and how close so many of us are to losing our insurance, if we even have any. And I see how some people have to pay a lot for insurance because they are not in a group or in a small group, while others practically have it for nothing. Some employers are generous; my son worked for a billionaire's large company where the $8.00/hour employees could buy their insurance if they chose to (yeah right.)

I sincerely hope that we can honor the memory of Ted Kennedy by getting a new system that treats people fairly and does away with the ridiculously complicated insurance claim system that clinics now have to deal with. Good health care needs to be available to everyone. A simplified health care PAYMENT system should be a reasonable goal.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pay more taxes?

Some people are volunteering to pay more taxes. What do you think? I sure think that people who complain about taxes and yet choose to use all the services we are privileged to have are not connecting the dots. And I don't think we should foist the costs of our privileges and benefits off onto our grandchildren.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heads will roll...

Follow-up to my previous post: I found a link on the clinic's website for asking a question. I asked, "How do I get a scheduler to call me and how do I get a call back from the department?" I signed my whole name. I received a quick reply, stating that the person would try to help me if I gave the department and my phone number. I wrote back with the whole story of having 4 people say that a scheduler would call, but after a week, no call, etc. But I also asked the question, "Do you think that this is what the providers expect when they want test done?" If there is a good reason for a delay, it should be communicated. I explicitly asked for no special treatment, but that there should be better follow-up in general.

I got a follow-up email saying that my email was forwarded to a department head. This was at 8:00 am. At 11:15 am, exactly one week from my initial appointment, I finally did get a call from a scheduler. I scheduled my appointment, then I asked her why she had called. She said her supervisor told her to call. I told her the whole story, so that she could understand the patient's point of view. I thought she was genuinely empathetic and understanding. She said she will personally follow up on some details.

But when I wrote that email, I thought to myself, I will just document everything and if they don't exhibit better customer relations, I'll send the info to the CEO. Head will roll.

BTW, I am always extremely complimentary when I write if there are positive aspects of a situation. I find I get better results that way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It was like a plague of locusts

Yesterday a pastor-blogger posted a piece which said that the tornado that just missed the Convention Center but hit the church steeple across the street, as well as numerous homes quite a bit south of there, was evidence of God's judgment regarding the various votes that the ELCA is taking this week. No need to go into detail; those of you who are in the in-crowd on this know what I mean.

I made a comment, not about the issues voted upon, but about the idea that how could anybody possibly know God's mind. And isn't it just possible that we could interpret it as the convention center being spared? And what happens when that pastor's parishioners have storm damage, how does he counsel them? Pastors who claim to understand the mind and intent of God are an irritation to me.

Commenters were all over the place in their views, praising the pastor, condemning the sinners, warning all of us in the US to be wary of God's wrath because of materialism and gluttony, praising God for loving all of mankind, etc. Some posters keyed in on literal interpretations of the Bible, in a particular English version, of course. Others cited verses about God and/or Jesus controlling the weather. Others gave verses about certain things happening to people regardless of whether they are righteous or not. One person even looked into the history of the blogger's church and claimed that it has been hit by a tornado in the past. You get the picture.

I got about 400 comment emails in my in-box. They wouldn't turn off. I repeatedly clicked the unsubscribe. Finally, there was a long comment from another pastor who called the original blogger on the carpet, detailing errors in specific references to scripture, citing science, citing errors in interpretation and inconsistencies, of both scripture references and from the blogger's past writings.

Then the comments stopped. Cold. I checked the blog and it no longer showed a comment box. But this morning, the plague of locusts returned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How long are they going to keep me waiting?

Last week I finally had a medical appointment with a nurse practitioner at an extremely large clinic in a far city for an on-going health problem. I've lived with the problem for a long time; I know it isn't going to kill me, but there are reasons to make sure there aren't other problems that are masked by the main symptoms.

This appointment was set up through my regular family doctor, and it took about 5 weeks until I could get in. I had hoped to see the specialist, but I was assigned to the CNP. I thought she was really good. She asked about 100 questions and made a point of making sure she understood my answers. I was impressed. I've actually seen another specialist twice a few years ago, at another clinic, but he asked only a few questions, proclaimed a very general diagnosis, never even checked my body, and sent me on my way with no tests, with no care plan or suggestions or patient information about the supposed diagnosis. Needless to say, I was POed.

The CNP told me what tests were needed; that was not a surprise, because I've had those before elsewhere. She told me to stop taking one medication, but to start two others. She then walked me out to the desk, where she told the clerk to schedule me for four tests and a followup visit. That woman said, "I don't know how. The schedulers are in the back." She asked me if my phone would take a message when they called.

I had no message when I got home. I had no calls the next two working days. But by then, it was obvious I was reacting poorly to one of the medications, so I called the office and said that I was in "extreme pain," that I wanted to stop the medication, that I wanted to talk to the CNP, and that the schedulers hadn't called back. The response was that she would "send an email" to the CNP's nurse and that the schedulers were very busy. Six hours later, I was called by the nurse. Same story. She'll send an email to the CNP. She'll tell the schedulers. The scheduler called at 5:03 pm, made one of the test appointments, but couldn't make the rest because everybody had gone home.

Two days later, I'm feeling much better, but I still haven't heard from anybody else.

I've already written two complaint letters, but I haven't mailed them. I was too hot about this when I wrote the letters, so I know better than to send something like that. Since I'm feeling better, I've decided to wait about another week, and then I'll write to the CEO, not just to the department. Unfortunately, I've learned today that this may not be an isolated incident. I asked a friend if she had ever been to that clinic. She said no, but related a very similar story about a good friend of her's, but in that case, the person had a disease that was fatal if not treated promptly.

In my most desperate and snarky moments while waiting for the call backs, I've contemplated what I might say to the schedulers if and when they do call. I might say, "Oh, you want my sister. She was in extreme pain when she called on Tuesday. She keeled over and hit her head, and is now in surgery." Or maybe it will just be, "Can I have your name and the name of your supervisor and the head of your department, as well as the CEO of the clinic?" I honestly hope that I'm not feeling humbled and grateful that they finally decided to call.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How did kids ever get by before moms had internet?

My son and daughter-in-law moved, within the week, to a hot and humid state. The move went well, but there were some issues with their new apartment, so they couldn't move in immediately. And they couldn't move in even after 3 more days, even though the apartment management knew when they were to arrive. And they had a considerable amount of money invested in the deposit and first month's rent. Of course, they went looking for alternative apartments, even though there might be some financial ramifications for leaving the first place.

Meanwhile, expenses are adding up, plus they needed funds for the new apartment. Apparently, their banks back home must have decided that their credit cards were stolen, because the ATM machines wouldn't honor their cards and passwords.
My son has been on the phone with me numerous times this week, so I've been on the 'net trying to get some information to help them out: location of their bank in new city (oops, not in that state at all), laws about renting and getting one's deposit back (probably can't get the money, even though the apartment isn't ready), phone numbers of lawyers, just to name a few things. It is pretty hard to try to take care of business and find a place to connect to the 'net when one is new in town.

My husband and I couldn't help but reflect on how complicated life has become for young people. We were never asked for any detailed financial information when we were renting. We were never asked to have a guarantor for our rent. We didn't have plastic money, so there was never a possibility of getting cash quickly, nor was there a chance of easily going into debt. We did get married when we were both unemployed and the unemployment rate was high, but when we got jobs, we got good health insurance.

This situation also triggered a memory of my older daughter's move to a state out east. The day after she moved into her apartment with her husband and new baby, she took her husband to work for his first day at his job. She got her keys locked in her car when she got back to the apartment. She had no acquaintances there, was not within walking distance of any stores, didn't know her husband's work phone number, and had no phone book or internet connection. She called us so we could look up all the information on the 'net. Unfortunately, the phone number we got for her husband's work was wrong, so the best we could do was find a locksmith and also the phone number for the local police department.

I guess being resourceful these days is different than being creative used to be. Back in the day, as the kids say, I would have had to knock on doors to get help. What else was there to do? That does have advantages, even if it has more risks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rationing Health Care

Another way of framing the current LOUD debate: whole article here.

In Palin’s fantasy, the death-panel “bureaucrats” were going to pick winners and losers based on a judgment about their “level of productivity in society.” Well, if you view income as a gauge of a person’s productivity in society—and God knows there are Republicans who do—then the quality of health care is already correlated with “productivity in society.” Obama’s plan, by making health care more affordable to lower income people, would make that less true.

This is just another way of making a point already made by Peter Singer in response to less delusional concerns about the possibility of rationing under Obama’s plan: we already ration health care; we just let the market do the rationing.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Back to Work!

A number of the large employers in our general area have been on full or partial shut down for over half a year. One of these businesses layed off 590 people last February, but they just announced that they are recalling several hundred employees and restarting several production lines in the next few months. Lets hope that this will spread to the other closed businesses and also to the ancillary businesses in the area that have been really stretched.

The other big business (said with tongue in cheek) here is the tourist industry. Of course, that doesn't pay well. And since, weather-wise, this has been the summer that never came, I'm sure that the resorts can't be doing all that well. This is the first summer that I haven't seen any employment ads for resort cleaning people.

Even the school districts are hurting, with about half as many students as ten years ago. You can extrapolate what these tough times are doing to giving to area churches. My church is hoping to do a large remodeling project while there is some economic stress in the area, because we're hoping that bids come in quite low. Kind of sad to be selfishly hopeful about that.

Paradise, Almost in My Back Yard



A town, just a scenic 50 mile drive away from me, was named one of the 10 Best Small Towns in Outside magazine. Love it. I can take advantage of all the amenities without having to deal with the traffic on Ely's main street, ie cars with canoes on the roofs. also: Ely and Ely on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Word, misread

I was reading this article about the movement to shout down Democratic legislatures at meeting where the Congressmen/women want to find out the views of their constituents I misread the word "sign" as "sin." I think it fits. The Epistle lesson for this coming Sunday speaks to the issue of how we speak with one another. Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2.

First part of article:

Right-Wing Harassment Strategy Against Dems Detailed In Memo: ‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’

This morning, Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being harassed by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. For example, in one incident, right-wing protesters surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Unemployment

YIKES! The nearest city has 17 % unemployment and the next closest city has 18.7% unemployment. No wonder there are no ads in the local papers asking for people to clean tourist facilities on Saturdays. ALL the large employers are in temporarily or permanent shut down. What will happen when the unemployment insurance runs out?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Zip your lips!

To all of MJ's "friends" and "confidants" and lawyers and "doctors" and nurses:  Doesn't friendship and ethics and employment require you to ZIP YOUR LIPS?  Ditto to Mark Sanford:  enough already!  SHUT UP!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I need some money

In spite of the recession and the complete closing of one of our major employers in town, as well as the temporary shut down of about 5 very large employers within 40 miles, there are several major fund raising efforts going on in my small community. One is nearly ready to get underway with the next phase: the building of a new community center, in the park, with a good kitchen. The community has really gotten behind this project and all the fund raising events. About $150,ooo has been raised so far, certainly enough to get the building started this summer. I just hope that the community can continue to support the maintenance of this building in the future, because lack of maintenance was just one problem at the current park building.

Part of our community, that is outside of the city limits, close as the crow flies, but not close by road, has somewhat poor coverage from fire departments, despite very high taxes. Private individuals have banded together to raise money and buy two fire rigs that will be closer to their homes. The costs are enormous and they have met their goals; the rigs are in place.

I've been involved an effort to keep our school swimming pool open. The school board has seriously considered closing the pool to save money. On paper, the cost to run the pool, water, heat, lights, pumps, chemicals, etc. is enormous. We question the figures, but there is no good way to measure the heat and lights because they aren't monitored separately from the building.
The school board has decided to keep the pool open if a community group is willing to do fund raising to pay half of the costs. Since I'm attending the meetings of the group, and the size of the interested parties has diminished, I now officially on the board of directors for the purposes of applying for tax exempt status. Whew.....like I need more to think about.

We have a lot of competition for extra money. It is easy to be pessimistic about all of this, given the recession, but we have to keep our focus on quality of life issues for the future. Small towns are somewhat fragil. When the school, churches, and businesses decrease, quality of life issues are evident, and people start thinking of moving away or not moving here in the first place. Even the tourists won't come here if the community diminishes. But we can only look to the near term in our fund raising and chose to be positive. Maybe we'll provide the community with some fun events in the process.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Too much stuff

When my husband and I were first married, quite poor, and unemployed, there was no "plastic" money. If the money wasn't in the wallet, it didn't get spent. We went to a couple of sales and found a few items to sit on or at for our little rental house. We had been given money for a bed and some linens for wedding presents, some kitchen items, so we were all set. The really nice thing was that we weren't burdened with a ton of stuff when we were able to move to a nicer rental place a year later.

Now we own too much stuff. I suppose many of us do. Will anybody else admit this? Raise your hand. We still own too much stuff after making some considerable effort to clean out, give and throw away stuff. My biggest motivator in this effort is my mom's old house, which my grandmother moved into in about 1916 and which my mother inherited in 1973. Neither woman nor their families ever threw out anything. Guess which generation now has to deal with this? Things that could have sentimental meaning, but were relegated to a drawer for years, just don't mean that much. I'm thinking of my father's baptismal dress. I'm not going to frame it and hang it in my house.

If you want to see the ultimate in TOO MUCH STUFF, you could come to the huge sale that will start tomorrow at our local school. The local branch of an international charitable organization puts on this annual sale, using the school facilities to display the goods. Each year more has been donated and now the goods have outgrown the space. The smaller items such as baskets, dishes, kitchen ware, decorations, more books than a used book store, and smaller tools fill the gym, wall to wall.

There are three outside tents and three hallways with lots of used furniture, appliances, wood stoves, and grills. Another tent covers a number of bicycles. There are enough Nordic Trak ski machines to allot one to every 100 people in town. They are priced at only about $2 - 10. And if you added in the rest of the exercise devices, there'd be one for every 30 people. There are boats. Not toy boats; real boats. True antiques are priced high, but everything else must go and the prices reflect this.

If I were starting out again, I might be able to furnish a place even cheaper than we did so many years ago. It is hard to imagine that the people in this small town could donate so many items, but I think it reflects the excesses we have these days and the desire for new things that our culture instills in us. That leaves plenty to give away. The money collected from this sale will probably be over $25,000, based on past experiences. Most of it will benefit local causes.

Too much Stuff? How is it that so many of us get so much stuff and still think we don't have enough to donate more money to our churches or save enough for retirement or give to other good causes? The one thing that I think has happened is that impulse buying is now the norm, using plastic, so we just are able to buy without thinking of money or space. I am reflecting on the contrast to what we saw in Uganda where the people own so little. They own so little that they lock their doors to prevent thievery if they are poor, and if they are rich, by contrast, they surround their little home with a concrete wall topped with sharp glass. It is pretty easy to take either a spiritual or political lesson from that!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weeds

I was walking around the yard yesterday, thinking: Why does the grass grow so well in the flower gardens, when there are bare spots in the lawn? And why do the weeds grow so well, no matter where they root? Then....hey, maybe there is a spiritual lesson in that somewhere.

And that made me think of one of the reasons I started blogging: to take simple, ordinary daily actions and thoughts and become aware of, and write about, spiritual lessons in them.

I've gotten away from that; I've gotten away from blogging. I have had a number of things in mind to blog about, but sometimes these are too big to pin down properly. Sometimes I'm aware that my thoughts and opinions really "need" to be supported by some concrete "facts" which means I need to figure out where I learned about the background of the subject. [I'm trying to avoid being either BO from Fox or MO, one of our state's representatives to Washington. Not that people on the other side of the aisle don't spout opinions without backing them up.]

So then I procrastinate or blog-o-vate. Plus, I do have a life. In the last couple of months I've been away to visit by elderly relatives, I've babysat my grandsons, and I attended my son's wedding. And I really need to be outside when it is warm. Plus, I've been plagued by a series of viruses which took down my energy level.

Back to the weeds: At least they are green, so my lawn mostly looks green, but weeds have the unfortunate characteristic of crowding out the plants and grass, that we think are desirable. There are many activities in life that can take over our thoughts and time and crowd out what we might state are our real priorities, such as our worship of God, our families, our health, for example. Small things grow and take over our lives if we don't occasionally step back and recognize that our actual priorities are known by how we spend out time, not what we say.

Various activities, not just "sins," can take us away from our intentions to love God with our whole hearts and love our families and neighbors.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yes, dear, but....

Spinach Salad

We have fresh spinach in our garden, so this weekend, I looked for a spinach strawberry recipe. I thought I'd find one in almost every cookbook, but not so. This was in a Habitat for Humanity cookbook:

2 pounds spinach, trimmed, torn (supposedly makes 10 servings.)
16 oz fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced (I left it out)
1/2 C sliced green onions
1/2 C snipped fresh mint. (I didn't have this, so I sprinkled on some of the leaves from a mint (no black tea) tea bag.
1/2 C Poppy seed dressing. Add this and toss just before serving.

Poppy Seed dressing. I adjusted the original dressing recipe, as follows:

3/4 C olive oil (or salad oil)
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp salt

The real revelation was when I wanted a salad the next day, but I didn't want to go to the store just for strawberries. This was really refreshing.

To a big bowl of spinach leaves, along with some leaf lettuce, I added:
1/4 - 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 nectarine, sliced
Some of the poppy seed dressing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Extreme Swings in the Temperature

In just 20 minutes the temperature at Duluth's Sky Harbor Airport near the lake rose 40 degrees. The thermometer shot from 46 to 86 at 5pm. The temperature peaked at 88 degrees a few minutes later, and then plunged back to 45 within an hour. More here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Closing of Car Dealerships.

My neighbor said to me this morning, "Well, it looks like we won't be buying Chrysler vehicles anymore." The neighbor has been buying a specific type of vehicle from Chrysler for years because it serves the needs of her business and her family. But apparently the closest Chrysler dealer, with a 5 star repair rating, and the next closest Chrysler dealer, 40 miles away, plus the closest GM dealer will be losing their franchise. We also have done business with the Chrysler dealer for about 23 years. They are good people with a quality Five Star service department. The local GM dealer actually just recently purchased two more dealerships that are now going to be closed. Their other place will still now be the "closest" for many people, if close means over 100 miles for some of the customers.
Apparently, the auto companies are in financial trouble because of bad business practices. And in the last several years, a number of auto dealerships have closed due to declining business and a bad bottom line. But what about the remaining places? If they are selling enough cars and doing enough repairs to pay their people and rent, why shouldn't they stay in business? I've been told that the small dealers have to buy their new cars from the company, so if the cars are paid for, what is it to the company just how many cars are sold? In a city, if a dealer closes, well, you might have to drive another 10 miles to get service, not such a big deal as it is to go 100 miles for rural people.
All I'm saying is how will closing enough dealerships, or I should say, revoking the franchises, of GM and Chrysler dealers so that customers, who now have to drive as far as 50 miles to get a car serviced, so that in the future they will have to drive 100 miles, well, how will that help these companies retain customers? Two minus two equals zero. People have a life and they don't want to spend a whole day just to go get a car serviced.

People around here are pretty adamant about "buying American" and "buying local" when it comes to cars. There are no "foreign" car dealers close by, even though many of these are made in America. So now what?

To make this church related: If a church's attendance has declined and that church's reaction is to have fewer services and fewer outreach programs and cut out the newsletter, well then, how does that solve "the problem" of declining attendance?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Delayed gratification

I've been traveling from "the north" to the far eastern side of Wisconsin. That means I've been experiencing Spring in various stages but within a few days. Here on the east side of the state, the seasons are delayed because of the effect of the lake. When I drive back home, I'll get to enjoy the changing of the seasons backwards, but I may miss some of the ephemeral spring flowers back home.
Daffodils and tulips are God's way of teaching us to delay gratification.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Give a man a fish.......

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.
  - Jay Leno

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Communion, individual cups, Biblical and sanitary rational?

I've been reading some blogs that have been reflecting on passing of the Peace and also the use of individual cups vs. the common cup for Holy Communion in this age of H1N1 flu. I've also looked at the ELCA links for this topic.

I've observed various types of bread being used for communion, but I haven't' run across doctrinal assertions on this, but I have seen various opinions on whether various ways of distributing the bread is sanitary.

But the Cup or cups, well, that seems to be a matter of doctrine for some groups and some pastors. That always makes me wonder if these people would consider that communion done in another manner isn't really True Communion, ie., with Jesus really present, or is it that they just think that their way is "more better."

As they say, you can prove almost anything using the Bible, so people have verses and translations that they cite for use of a certain means of communion. But if our traditional interpretation isn't challenged, how would we ever think that there may be a different way of doing something. In the case of communion, I've been taught that it has to do with the bread and the wine together with the words of Jesus, in remembrance of Him and for the forgiveness of sins. I haven't been taught that the container for the wine was of importance, however those who insist on the common cup would disagree with that.

In the spirit of looking at how things are done with new eyes, I'm linking to an article that isn't new at all. It was published in 1906 in the United Brethren Review, but was originally published in the Lutheran Quarterly. It discusses both Biblical interpretation and cleanliness. Keep in mind, that it was published before much was know about bacteria and viruses.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Raspberry Vinaigrette

The first time I had Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing on a salad in a restaurant, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  I bought some of this in the store and I was so disappointed.  This recipe is from the 'net, but I've changed it a bit.

 Put in a jar:

1 Tbsp raspberry jam  (if your jam is really thick, put it in the jar and microwave it for about 10 sec.)

¼ C Raspberry vinegar

2 Tbsp orange juice

¼ tsp (or more) of garlic, fresh or from a jar.

Salt and pepper, a couple of shakes

¼ C + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Opt: a drop or two of red food coloring.

 Shake, chill for awhile.  It must sit at room temperature for awhile to get the olive oil to thin out again.

Do you want a salad suggestion? 

Green leaf lettuce

Green and/or red pepper

Carrots, sliced or grated

Mushrooms, sliced

Pignoli (pine nuts)

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Fresh raspberries, (seasonal)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Should we torture?

Dr. John explains why torture is not a good thing for our country to do.
Do not do an immoral thing for moral reasons. ~Thomas Hardy

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wedding invitations

When my daughter got married several years ago, a lot of thought went into who would be invited. It was a challenge because of space and money limitations, based on the budget that the couple set for themselves. There is always the question of who will be invited and if anybody in the same category will be upset if they don't receive an invitation.

My son is now going through this process. He heard that a certain couple is upset that they didn't receive an invitation. They were supposed to be on the list, and there is still time to correct the oversight. More people are being invited to this wedding because the couple were fortunate to have a much less expensive plan for their reception than usual. The bride has a large family; the groom has lots of friends.

My philosophy has been that the wedding couple should make their decisions about who to invite based on their own friendships. I wouldn't expect a child of mine to invite an adult friend of mine if my child didn't also have an emotional tie to that person.

Yesterday, I received a wedding invitation. This one really floored me. I don't know the groom. I know that bride as an almost-classmate of one of my kids, but she is someone I may have only talked to in passing, and certainly not in the last 5 years, because I haven't seen her in years. I've probably talked to the mother of the bride about 5 times quite awhile ago. We live a few miles apart, but our paths don't cross, mainly because I'm very active in my church, but the bride and her family no longer attend church, or at least not at my church.

I just wonder how I got on the list to be invited. I've been invited to weddings (or wedding showers) before when I've known one of the family members, but didn't know the couple. In those cases, I've attended the wedding if is close and convenient.

I just wonder if people just don't know where to stop when they are sending invitations to weddings. Or are they fishing for gifts? Or am I just being a scrooge about this? If I hadn't received the invitation, I'm not even in any gossip circle that would get the word to me that this young woman is getting married.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What about these tea parties

I happen to think that our taxes are what buys us our mostly good, mostly clean government, our mostly clean environment, our defense, our parks, our great roads, etc. and taxes are what pay the salaries of government workers. Yes, there could be different ways the money could be spent. And there are programs I'm against. But our government takes care of our old people and our disabled people. All in all, we get a lot in this country, including our freedom to protest. And lets not forget that! So do the protesters have some positive agenda or are they just for show and release of emotion? Here's one take on the opposition party.

And read this. Someone agrees with me. April 15: Patriots' day.

And the other side of the coin.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Seder

Last evening, two Lutheran Churches joined with the Catholic Church in town for a Seder meal held in the Catholic's social hall. About 100 people attended. Besides the built in reminders of the origin of the Passover, the group was reminded of the commonality of our faith in Christ, despite denominational differences. But those differences were also apparent before and after the meal. The Catholics had their Maundy Thursday Mass before the dinner. The Lutherans held their Maundy Thursday communion service after the meal, but in the semi-darkened Catholic sanctuary.

A Good Friday Story Worth Reading

A word picture to remember over at Faith in Community.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stoles








At last, I'm posting pictures of some stoles I have made. Pentecost/Ordination, Guess which season, and close up views of the Lenten stole.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Federal Stimulus Money


Two projects that are sort of near where I live will receive federal stimulus money shortly. One is a stretch of highway that was build over underground mines that needs reinforcements. The other is a neutrino detector, which is actually a big hole in the ground filled with scientific instruments. Besides the construction workers, I can't help but wonder who will be working there in the future, as we need more people making babies to help our our school district. We already have an underground http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/soudan_underground_mine/physicslab.html located at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. I've been down in the mine, 1/2 mile below the surface, four times. It was a very exciting and educational trip, down in the elevator, crosswise in the train car for 3/4 mile. Now a visitor can also visit the physics lab.

Since we can also use the tourist dollars, you are all invited to our area!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photos from the flooding in Fargo/Moorhead

Photos, including some time lapse photos, from the Fargo/Moorhead area. It looks bad, but the worst is yet to come. I decided to post these because the time lapse photos were taken by our friend, Than Tibbetts.

I can only imagine how miserable the volunteers must be, filling and stacking the sandbags. The weather where I live has been miserable: cold, wet, windy. I'm only "feeling" that by looking out the windows these last few days. It is the kind of weather that makes one want a winter place in Arizona. The area along the Red River is flat as a pancake, so the wind would feel much stronger. You can tell from the series of photos that the weather got colder during this time because the ice was forming. The Red River has flooded before, but they aren't used to it flooding during weather that also produces ice.

The river is projected to reach 43 feet by Saturday. I haven't been able to figure out what level they are measuring from, but flood stage is about 22 feet, and 43 feet is much taller than a two story house.

God Bless those volunteers!

Monday, March 23, 2009

DON'T READ THIS BOOK

This blog post just makes me want to go out and read the book called Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant. Reverse psychology.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Unemployed

My friend just emailed me to say that she will shortly be unemployed.  She does healthcare for children…I won’t say what exactly.  That is supposed to be a field that is immune from the recession.  Yeah right.  Her employer claims that there is another agency that does the same work, but, of course, the people in her office would know if that were so.  It isn’t.  She is in a small enough city that if there were such an agency, they would all know each other.  They are suspicious that the work will now be foisted onto the school districts, like they can stand to add more to their workload.  There is no safety net for these children.

 

I certainly understand budget tightening during this time of tight budgets, but let’s be honest about what is happening.  Our governor has used his position to have “no new taxes” during his time in office.  That has meant using up the reserves and pushing services onto lower levels of government, i.e. increasing the property taxes, because services have to happen in cities and towns.  Well, now the towns are laying off the police officers and he is criticizing this. 

 

This is what happens when a certain political party puts out the propaganda that paying taxes isn’t patriotic. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bonuses and greed!

The news is full of rage about the excessive greed of the AIG employees' bonuses during this difficult economic time.  That begs the question:  What is acceptable greed?  And can I be just greedy enough to avoid the wrath of the public?
 
Green for the color of money and envy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

liturgy

I'll be the worship assistant tomorrow.  No, I won't sing by myself in front of all those people.  And, yes, I will change the canned prayers. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm rich

Every spammer in Nigeria, and perhaps England, somehow has my email address. I’m sure related to a lot of people who are insisting on giving me money or sending me something, about 100 times/day.

Temperature

The forecast is for the temperature to go up 55 degrees today. Hmmmmm?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Lotsa Communion


My home church is changing the communion schedule to weekly communion. I don't have any theological questions about this, but I wonder how I'll feel about it and I wonder how it will affect our congregation. The pastor and worship committee have done a good job with explaining the change in the newsletter, bulletin, and orally in church. We have previously been on a twice/month communion schedule. Our pastor is working on streamlining the service so that the important parts of the service are done in full, but the parts that some pastors make a show of are streamlined. We have a lot of children attending our church, so I think it is fitting to consider those people how have to contend with squirrelly kids in their laps.
In past blog posts, I have written about expecting to receive communion and not being offered it. I've also had communion when I didn't expect it and found that to be a blessing. My adult children all expressed disappointment when there wasn't communion one Sunday when they were home. Two of them don't attend church all that often, so they wanted the Meal. Every week communion can be a blessing to those whose work schedule keeps them away from church when there is only periodic communion.
A few weeks ago, I was away from home. I don't quite get ambitious enough to drive 12 miles to attend church with my relatives when I visit that place. I could have driven one mile to attend at the church where I was baptized, but I know that that synod would wish to exclude me from the Lord's Supper even though my beliefs about what the Bible has to say doesn't differ from their views at all. If I'm not welcome at the table, I don't want to go there. I don't think that communion is only for the members of the "club."
On that Monday, I drove my Aunt to visit her sister in the nursing home. While we were there, in walked the pastor of those sisters. He is also my Mother's pastor. Although he was there to serve communion to the resident Aunt, he offered to serve all three of us. What a joy to receive the Lord's body and blood with these beloved Aunts, who also love me.
Six days later, I had the honor of attending two special church services on Sunday morning. They were almost identical services, but in two different buildings. Communion was served at both. It crossed my mind during the second service that I didn't need to receive the elements, for I had already gone forward earlier, but there were issues of how that might look to the regular members there. Thinking more theologically, I also realized that one can never have too much of our Lord, so I received communion again. The Peace of the Lord be with you always. And a piece of the Lord is given for you.