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July 12, 2012

A few weeks ago I linked to an article from Nathan Bingham titled Fathers, Stop Stealing From Your Children. Nathan was writing to fathers who are raising families in this busy and distracting world and telling them to give their children the time they need and deserve. He said that many fathers are guilty of stealing from their children: “You’re guilty when you skip breakfast with the family to prepare for that early morning meeting, when you’re distant at the dinner table because you’re resolving an issue at work in a long email conversation on your smartphone, and when you forfeit a healthy family night-time ritual because you’ve got something important to do—like write a blog post.”

This article generated some interesting and thoughtful responses and, because I had linked to it, some of them were sent my way. Some expressed frustration that Christian pastors or leaders were constantly telling them they were negligent fathers if they were not home every day on time to enjoy dinner with the family or, even better, breakfast and dinner. Another commented on the long hours many employers demand and asked, “Is that just a love of success and money? And is that feasible for a Christian to be working long hours, let’s say 50 hours week, without compromising on their faith?”

These are good questions and helpful comments. Let me sketch out just a few of my thoughts on the matter.

This Is Not a New Issue

When we look at the issue of long working hours, we can take too narrow a view of it, assuming that it is uniquely twenty-first century and first-world. However, if you look back through history you will find that it has always been the case that fathers have had to work long hours outside of the home. A man who farmed would have to give just about every waking hour, every daylight hour, to his crops and his animals. The shepherds and farmers and fishermen of Jesus’ day were not working 9-to-5 jobs. Most of them would have been working extremely long hours just to scratch out an existence. Few of these people would have had to concern themselves with an hour-long or two hour-long commute from the suburbs into the downtown core, bookending their actual work day with two or three hours of travel time.

This means that the biblical writers could have addressed this issue head-on. Paul could have written to one of the churches and said, “Fathers, you need to prioritize being home for dinner every night.” He did not. He could have mandated a forty hour work week. Again, he did not. There are commands that pertain to fathers, but none that get anywhere near this explicit. This tells us that the instructions we find in Scripture are sufficient to guide us even here and it also tells us that we have freedom in these matters—freedom to determine what is right and best in our context.

Work, Work, Work, Die

One consequence of Adam’s sin was a curse on his vocation to earn a living by tending and keeping the ground.

 And to Adam he said,
 “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
  and have eaten of the tree
 of which I commanded you,
  ‘You shall not eat of it,’
 cursed is the ground because of you;
  in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
  and you shall eat the plants of the field.
 By the sweat of your face
  you shall eat bread,
 till you return to the ground,
  for out of it you were taken;
 for you are dust,
  and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:17-19)

In other words, because of your sin, the land will now be opposed to you, it will fight against you. You will spend your whole life toiling to beat back thorns and thistles from off the soil and then at the end of it all, you’ll return to the soil. There is a kind of inevitability to it, and a kind of hopelessness. A man’s lot is to work in this world, knowing that he can never beat the system. He will eventually work himself to death.

That curse has extended far beyond farming and reaches to every vocation. The farmer faces the weeds, the pastor faces tired eyes and dead hearts, the lawyer faces long commutes and traffic jams (and that before he even gets to the office). None of us will have a life free from backbreaking (or mindbreaking or heartbreaking) labor. Work is long and hard because work is meant to be long and hard on this side of the curse. There are very few who escape it.

June 27, 2011

I grew up in a Christian culture in which very little evangelism took place. How little? The first believer’s baptism I ever witnessed was my wife (she was my girlfriend at the time) and that was when we were eighteen or nineteen. It was the first time our church had ever baptized an adult. And what’s more, it was the first time most of the people who attended that church had ever seen an adult get baptized.

A few years after my wife’s baptism we moved away from the town we had grown up in so we could be closer to my place of business. In the past decade we have been members of two different churches that place much greater emphasis on reaching the lost. We have seen many, many people come to faith, including several who are now close friends. We have seen lives altered dramatically and have seen more baptisms than we can count—baptisms in churches, rivers, pools, and a really big, ugly aluminum tank. We have shared in the joy of seeing people profess their faith by being baptized. It truly is one of the greatest joys of any church.

Over the years I’ve had to reflect on what made the churches I attended as a child and teenager so ineffective at evangelism. While there are several reasons I could provide, and they are of varying importance, there is one that I believe stands at the foundation of the rest: These churches often regarded the unbeliever as the enemy. Of course the church would never have articulated that belief, but it seemed to be deeply rooted.

This attitude manifested itself in many ways. One of the clearest ways was among the children of church members. They would rarely, if ever, be allowed or encouraged to play or even interact with the unsaved children in the neighborhood. I knew an “urban missionary” whose children were confined to their backyard and were forbidden from playing with the other children. The churched children were not allowed to play with other children lest they become corrupted by their worldliness.

My observation was that this approach failed and failed badly. First, the church was not faithful in its calling to take the gospel throughout the world. They preferred to exist in an enclave, safe from outside influences. Second, and ironically, the children developed a fascination with the world. I believe this was, in large part, because access to the outside world had been denied to them and they had never seen the pain and heartbreak that are the inevitable results of forsaking God. The world can look awfully attractive until a person sees the results of giving himself over to it. Third, the parents were prone to ignoring worldliness in their own children. I know that I saw more drugs, more drinking, more disrespect and more awful behavior in the Christian schools I attended than I did in the public schools. This isolation simply did not work. What I saw was that we do not need the world to teach us worldliness. Worldliness arises from within.

September 27, 2010

It’s one of the inevitabilities of parenting—the kids just keep getting older and older. And every now and again I pause and consider and realize that my time with the kids is running out. My son is now 10-and-a-half years old, and in just a few months he will be exactly half the age I was when I got married. It’s entirely possible that I’m coming up to the 50% mark of the time he will be living in my home, under my direct influence. Panic!

This can be a difficult thing to think about. I look back on the ten years of parenting and see so many missed opportunities, so many times that I was not available to the kids. I look at where they are now in their spiritual development, in my knowledge of who they are, and I wonder if I’ve already blown it, if it’s already too late.

But at my best I know better than this. I know it’s not too late and that the best years are ahead. So when I recover from my momentary panic, I look forward to what lies ahead, and I especially look forward to increasingly regarding my children as friends. That is something I’ve seen from my friends with older children—that as the children grow up, they make the slow transition from kid to friend. And already I’m starting to see how that is happening. I’ll always be dad to the kids, but I will also be able to regard them as friends.

In the past few months I have been trying to be a little bit more intentional about spending time with the children, trying to grab the moments that exist and trying to create memories. Mostly I’m just trying to know them and to be known by them. And I know that one of the best ways I can do this is by spending time individually with each one of them.

The first thing I started doing was being deliberate about “daddy dates,” taking my kids, one each week, out for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Because the kids are in public schools we cannot do this on weekdays. But it’s a lot of fun to wake up early on Saturday and head to Denny’s (which, so far, is their breakfast joint of choice). So each Saturday I wake one of them and quietly head out for breakfast. The kids order something off the kids’ menu and I order the Grand Slam. We just sit and talk. It’s not a lot of time, but it’s a good time. It’s a time with no real agenda except to have the experience alone together. I don’t know how long they’ll continue to be impressed with Denny’s, but for now they think it’s awfully exciting.

I’ve also tried to find at least one more substantial thing I can do with each of the children once or twice in the year (outside of the fun things we do as a family). Last year I took my daughter to The Sound of Music (the musical, not the movie) when it was playing in Toronto, spending the money to make sure we could sit in great seats and see all that was going on. I take my son to a couple of baseball games each year, either just the two of us or with him and one of his friends. We try to time things in such a way that we hang out with a player after the game or find a way to get out onto the field or something else that’s kind of special.

As the children get just a little bit older I will begin to bring them with me to the occasional conference. I have seen lots of speakers do this and I’m looking forward to it as well—the travel and the experience will be very exciting for them, even if they get bored to death sitting in a convention center for 2 or 3 days.

One of the most ordinary things I’ve been doing lately is having one of the children help me with the after-dinner routine every night. Since my wife is generally the one who makes dinner, I’ve always taken it upon myself to clean up after we finish eating. And now that the school year has begun, I usually put together the next day’s bagged lunches at the same time. So what I have been doing is having one of the children join me in this each night. We will do dishes together, make the lunches together, and then do whatever that kid wants to do that night. Sometimes we will go for a walk together, sometimes we’ll read a story, sometimes we’ll play a computer game or turn on the Wii. But in any case, we do the work and then spend some time together doing something fun. This has quickly become a tradition that the kids love. Though they probably wouldn’t complain if we were to scratch the bits that demand work, they are so eager to spend time with me that even doing dishes suddenly seems like fun rather than work. (Similar to this but perhaps geared primarily to slightly older children, Brian Croft tells how he individually shepherds each of his children in this very helpful blog post)

So there we have just a few of the ways that I try to make sure I am being deliberate in spending time individually with each of my children. But I know that I’ve got a lot to learn. I’d love to hear from you about some of the things you do, or perhaps some of the things your parents did long ago, as they sought to love you and be loved by you. How do you ensure you are investing personally in each of your children?

September 24, 2009

A couple of days ago I sat down with Aileen and a blank piece of paper. On the top of the paper I wrote, “If we were better parents to our children we would…” and then, between the two of us, we began to jot down ideas. We thought of some of the things we would do if we were to be the kind of parents we really want to be—parents who love our children, who value genuine friendships with them and, primarily, who raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And I think we came up with a few ideas that ought to make a real difference.

As we did so, I thought of something I wrote a couple of years ago. It somehow seemed relevant. Here it is…

My children have been behaving a little bit strangely at bedtime in recent days. My son tends to be melancholy in the evenings at the best of times but recently has been getting worried as soon as we tuck him into bed. Two nights ago he was concerned that the Sith were going to attack him (how he even knows who the Sith are is beyond me) and last night he was worried that the Japanese were going to invade Canada (I guess he has been reading about the Second World War). I assured him that the Japanese were not going to invade our country but he replied, “Well, they snuck up on Hawaii without the Americans noticing!” This much is true. His little sister feeds off his worries and almost inevitably ends up creating her own.

It generally happens that, by the time we tuck the children into bed, Aileen and I are ready to be done with them for the day. It may sound harsh, but by the end of a long day, we are more than eager to spend an hour or two by ourselves in the living room before also heading for bed. The last thing we want is a parade of children up and down the stairs and a chorus of cries asking us to come upstairs to mediate one problem or another.

Last night, a good hour after I put my daughter to bed, and as I settled into the couch to spend some time reading, I heard a cry of “Daddy!” I went to the bottom of the stairs and asked what she wanted. “Will you come and cuddle me?” she called out. I thought about it for a moment and eventually told her that she should already be asleep and that I was not going to come up and cuddle her. Thankfully she soon drifted off and slept well.

As I thought about it a little bit more I realized that I did not want to cuddle her, at least in part, because I had to. I was looking at it as a “got to” situation: “I’ve got to cuddle her.” And I rebelled. It didn’t take me long to regret my decision. She is going to be with us for so few years and for many of those she will no doubt have no desire to cuddle me. And is it so bad for a six-year old to want a cuddle (or another cuddle) before bed? The more I thought about it, the more this seemed like a “get to” situation: “I get to cuddle her.”

It’s funny the difference made by that one little letter. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with the got to’s and the get to’s. Church can seem like a “got to” obligation, but it is so much sweeter when I face it as if it is a “get to” privilege. My morning devotions can often feel like a “got to” but I enjoy them so much more when I treat them like a “get to.” Rather than having to face the Bible and prayer in the morning, I see them as an enjoyable privilege. It often makes all the difference in a mind as feeble and sinful as mine.

When Abby stumbled down the stairs this morning, squinting through barely-awake eyes, her hair all askew, I grabbed her up in a big hug and settled onto the couch with her for a few minutes of cuddling. It is something I get to do, at least for a few more years. It was my privilege and my pleasure.

December 07, 2008

In recent months my family has been discovering (for the kids) or rediscovering (for Aileen and me) a love of board games. We’ve had great fun playing games like Ticket to Ride (an amazing game for the whole family), Lost Cities (a fast and fun strategy game for two adults or older children), and a few of the classics. In the next day or two Aileen and I are going to tackle Carcassonne, by all accounts a classic in its own right. Nick loves to play complicated war games like Axis & Allies and Risk, though he plays by his own rules.

With Christmas fast approaching, we’re looking at getting a few more games to tide us through these long, cold, winter months. I’m guessing there are some people out there who can suggest a few surefire winners for us. We’d prefer either games that the whole family can play (or, at least, age eight or nine and up) or games that Aileen and I can play on our own. We’re not too interesting, at least for now, in games that require four or more people. I’ve been looking at games like Blokus, Power Grid, and Puerto Rico. Can anyone suggest other games that might be worthwhile additions to our collection?

August 15, 2008

On Wednesday evening I was coaching first base when, from behind me, I overheard a chat between two of the parents from other team. “That first baseman was so nice. He would tell our guys, ‘Nice hit!’ even though he is on the other team. What a nice boy!” With just a bit of pride I smiled, knowing they weren’t talking about just any first baseman; they were talking about my boy.

It was a bit of a tough season for Nick. It started off well enough, with him collecting a few hits over his first couple of games. This year his team was facing a pitching machine flinging the balls at 40 miles per hour. It was a big adjustment from the year before when the boys saw nothing more than soft tosses from their own coaches. But once they made the adjustment, they began to hit well. I worked hard, with the other coaches, to help them work on their swings and by the end of the season we saw some remarkable progress. But Nick struggled. Around the mid-point of the season our team was playing the Red Sox when one of their players, a friend of Nick’s from school, was hit by an errant pitch (though, honestly, the machine threw it straight—it was the kid who stepped in front of the plate and hence in front of the pitch). There was no great damage done to the boy, but something clicked in Nick’s mind and he determined that the machine was out to get him. For the rest of the season he struggled to hit, subconsciously stepping away from every pitch, obviously worried that he would be hit as well. He collected a few hits through the rest of the season but mostly he flailed away, striking out time and again.

We prayed with him a lot. We assured him that God cares even for things as silly as little league baseball. We did not want him to become too discouraged with striking out and prayed that God would let him hit, at least occasionally. Nick is an above average fielder and loves playing defense. He often wished that his team could have a designated fielder just like American League teams have a designated hitter. But if he wanted to play, he would have to bat. And so he did, facing that machine three or four times every game. Mostly he struck out.

If Nick became discouraged, he did not often let it show. The boys on the team would occasionally tease him about his inability to hit, but he would brave it out. He was the boy on the team with the best head for the game and he was the one with the most enthusiasm. While his teammates were goofing off behind the bench, Nick was cheering for the one at bat and the one or two on base. When the boys came off the field after striking out, Nick would give them a high five and tell them, “Nice try!” He cheered the loudest and the longest. But still he struck out.

With only a couple of weeks left in the season, the head coach announced that he was going to hand out three team awards. He wanted the boys to vote for one another to decide who would win the award for the Most Valuable Player, the Most Improved and the Most Sportsmanlike. He gave no stipulations—just that the boys could not vote for themselves and that they had to realize that these awards meant a lot because they came not from the coaches or the parents but from the boys themselves.

Wednesday’s game was a tough one. It was the last game of the season and one we would need to win to have any hope at all of making the playoffs. Even then it was a long shot. The boys played well but faded at the end, unable to hold off a stronger offense. Twice Aileen heard boys on our team making fun of Nick, laughing at him or calling him names for his inability to hit. Twice Nick choked back tears and put a brave face on, continuing to cheer for his teammates.

At the end of the game, a loss, the coach handed out the awards. The MVP went to the obvious candidate—a boy who was our best hitter and among our most skilled fielders. The Most Improved went to a boy who had a lot of trouble throwing and catching at the beginning of the season but, who by the end, was hitting regularly, making solid contact; his fielding had improved significantly as well. And then it came time for the Most Sportsmanlike award. I’m not one of those parents who values sportsmanship above all else; I don’t adhere fully to the “as long as we all have fun” philosophy. I figure that if we are going to play sports, we ought to try our hardest and do our best. If I held to the “as long as we all have fun” philosophy in web design, I would not run a successful business! When Nick plays baseball, I expect that he will give it his best effort. Yet sportsmanship matters. It is the award that reflects character more than skill. And as a Christian parent, I value character much more highly than skill.

TrophySure enough, when the coach announced the winner, he announced Nick’s name. Taunting comments were forgotten, at least for a few minutes, as Nick accepted his trophy and accepted applause from his team, his coaches, and the parents. Though his teammates may have made fun of him at times, they had to acknowledge his love for the game, his loyalty to his team, and his character. As we walked off the field and headed home, Aileen and I told him how proud we were. We told him that we would much rather have a son who shows character—who stands brave in the face of trials and who is encouraging to his friends—than a kid who can hit the ball all over the diamond (though we wouldn’t complain if he could do both!).

It was a tough year for my boy, but a good one in which he showed a lot of growth. As Aileen said afterward, Nick is learning a skill, and that is being encouraging teammate with a good attitude and strong character. And really, that is going to get him a lot further in life than hitting a baseball out of the park. Of course this won’t keep us from spending some time in the batting cages during the off-season…

August 13, 2008

Last Saturday Aileen and I watched as some friends of ours were married. First was a beautiful ceremony at a historic Baptist church in the heart of the city and this was followed by a lengthy, enjoyable reception at a nearby reception hall. We enjoyed ourselves a lot and rejoice with our friends, praying for God’s blessing on their new marriage.

As I was sitting in the church and as I sat at the reception, eating great food, talking to friends, listening to speeches and just looking around and observing, I began to think back to other weddings I’ve been to. I saw that there have been phases in my life—different ways I’ve enjoyed wedding ceremonies.

Before I was married, I would attend wedding ceremonies and think about my own future wedding. Even before I knew Aileen and had a real ceremony in mind, I would look at the bride and groom and transport myself into the future, just wondering what it would be like to stand up there and to be the one marrying that beautiful bride. What does a groom feel? What would my bride look like? When would my time come?

After my own marriage, weddings became an occasion to reminisce about my own wedding ceremony, now an event in the past. I would sit with Aileen beside me and remember how I felt when I saw her standing in the back of the church and how I felt as I kissed her for the first time as husband and wife. I would feel again those swells of emotion as I remembered that momentous day. And what a day it was.

But now something has changed. Perhaps I am getting old; perhaps life has changed me; probably both. As I watched Alicia walk to the front of the church on the arm of her father and as I saw Nick’s face change as he gazed upon his bride (he later confessed, in a most unromantic way, that he was so excited he almost threw up when he saw her); as I heard Nick’s mother say, “It seems like only yesterday” and as Alicia’s father proclaimed his affection for his daughter and his regard for his new son; as Nick’s brother shared stories from Nick’s childhood and as Alicia’s sister shared memories from their younger years; as Nick and Alicia sang a first song (in place of dancing a first dance); as I observed all of these things, my mind was drawn to my own children, and to my daughters in particular.

My wedding is now ten years in the past. While it remains the best day of my life, already the memories are growing hazy. Once again I am gazing forward rather than backwards. I am gazing to the future and seeing myself not as the groom, but as the father, the man who will stand at the front proclaiming “I do,” not as the man receiving the bride but as the one giving her to another. And it’s almost too much to take. The words, “it seems like yesterday,” haunt me. My daughters are five and two, my son eight. There are so many wasted yesterdays that have already gone by and there are only so many tomorrows left. When it is my turn to give that speech, when I look at my daughter sitting beside her new husband or my son beside his new bride, will I think back to all those yesterdays with fondness, knowing that they were used to the fullest extent? Or will I, like so many fathers, look back with regret at day after wasted yesterday?

May God grant grace…

July 25, 2008

My children have been behaving a little bit strangely at bedtime in recent days. My son tends to be melancholy in the evenings at the best of times but recently has been getting worried as soon as we tuck him into bed. Two nights ago he was concerned that the Sith were going to attack him (how he even knows who the Sith are is beyond me) and last night he was worried that the Japanese were going to invade Canada (I guess he has been reading about the Second World War). I assured him that the Japanese were not going to invade our country but he replied, “Well, they snuck up on Hawaii without the Americans noticing!” This much is true. His little sister feeds off his worries and almost inevitably ends up creating her own.

It generally happens that, by the time we tuck the children into bed, Aileen and I are ready to be done with them for the day. It may sound harsh, but by the end of a long day, we are more than eager to spend an hour or two by ourselves in the living room before also heading for bed. The last thing we want is a parade of children up and down the stairs and a chorus of cries asking us to come upstairs to mediate one problem or another.

Last night, a good hour after I put my daughter to bed, and as I settled into the couch to continue reading through Iain Murray’s biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I heard a cry of “Daddy!” I went to the bottom of the stairs and asked what she wanted. “Will you come and cuddle me?” she called out. I thought about it for a moment and eventually told her that she should already be asleep and that I was not going to come up and cuddle her. Thankfully she soon drifted off and slept well.

As I thought about it a little bit more I realized that I did not want to cuddle her, at least in part, because I had to. I was looking at it as a “got to” situation: “I’ve got to cuddle her.” And I rebelled. It didn’t take me long to regret my decision. She is going to be with us for so few years and for many of those she will no doubt have no desire to cuddle me. And is it so bad for a five-year old to want a cuddle (or another cuddle) before bed? The more I thought about it, the more this seemed like a “get to” situation: “I get to cuddle her.”

It’s funny the difference made by that one little letter. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with the got to’s and the get to’s. Church can seem like a “got to” obligation, but it is so much sweeter when I face it as if it is a “get to” privilege. My morning devotions can often feel like a “got to” but I enjoy them so much more when I treat them like a “get to.” Rather than having to face the Bible and prayer in the morning, I see them as an enjoyable privilege. It often makes all the difference in a mind as feeble and sinful as mine.

When Abby stumbled down the stairs this morning, squinting through barely-awake eyes, her hair all askew, I grabbed her up in a big hug and settled onto the couch with her for a few minutes of cuddling. It is something I get to do, at least for a few more years. It was my privilege and my pleasure.

May 11, 2008

I went looking this morning for a prayer for Mother’s Day. I guess the Puritans didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day (wasn’t Hallmark around back then?) but I did find this prayer for the family in The Valley of Vision. It is called simply “Family.”


O SOVEREIGN LORD,
Thou art the Creator-Father of all men, for thou hast made and dost support them;
Thou art the special Father of those who know, love and honour thee,
who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,
thy work honourable,
thy commandments glorious.
But how little thy undeserved goodness has affected me!
how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!
how negligent have I been in doing good to others!
I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,
have mercy on me,
and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.
Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive,
fall short of heaven at last;
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience,
soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

April 11, 2008

It has been a tough couple of days. On Wednesday I wrote about the perfect storm of being away from home and returning only to have Michaela (my two year-old daughter) come down with some kind of illness. Well, that illness has progressed and yesterday she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors aren’t quite sure what is wrong with her, though at least they’ve been able to eliminate several awful things. At this point they are thinking that she likely has some kind of viral infection, but for the time being they need to keep her there. She hasn’t been able to keep any food or drink down for almost three days now so they’ve had to hook her up to an I.V. to keep her hydrated. Thankfully it seems that she is doing a little bit better than she was yesterday.

Aileen stayed with her all day yesterday and through the night so I’m going to head over there now and spell her off so she can come home and get some sleep. Here’s a picture of my two girls (with Michaela being the younger of the two, of course). We covet your prayers!

michaela_abby.jpg

Afternoon Update: I got home from the hospital a short time ago. Michaela is definitely doing at least a little bit better and she’s getting her fight back in her. Though I hate to see the sin in my kids, at least this time around I’m taking it as a good sign! She’s very bothered by the I.V. in her arm and by the bracelets on her ankles (but quite pleased with the Snoopy band aid). She’s grumpy and irritable, but at least she’s showing some emotion. The past two days she was so out of it she didn’t even talk or complain most of the time. The doctor figures it is just some nasty virus and thinks she should be set for release sometime on Saturday afternoon. So we’re thankful and hopeful. We are grateful for your prayers and for your concern!