Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Free online BrainBench testing next week

Hi A___ and B_____,
Not sure if this would be of interest for you, but thought I’d tell you just in case.
BrainBench is an online testing service. Their exams are not proctored (you do them from your own computer) but otherwise are on par with CLEP-style tests. They offer about 600 different exams on a wide range of subjects. Normally they charge between $30 and $50 for a test.
Next week (March 5-9) all tests will be free. No catches. Details here:
Probably the big question you’re wondering is, “What good is a non-proctored test?” While there actually is use of these exams in the business world by job applicants, in the case of your families I thought maybe your older kids might be interested in trying a few. It’s a convenient (from home), cheap (free), and very challenging (these are adult-level tests) way to measure their skill levels. The test results are also comprehensive: it’s not just a pass/fail result; they give you a score, tell you how your score compared with other test-takers, how many questions in each section of the test you got right, and what your areas of strength and weakness are.
It won’t get them any college credit, but it will give them practice at taking exams, and might help them know where they want to focus their studies.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I'm Voting for Santorum

Hi G_____,
Any thoughts?
Leaning towards Santorum.
But haven’t studied it too deeply.
None of the GOP guys please me too much this year.
Pretty sure Obama will win 2nd term.
Hi Daniel,

I just cast my ballot for Santorum. I do not have a candidate whom I support much. But I like Rick's ethics the most of all.

My brother was a Committeeman for the GOP in the Philadelphia suburbs several times and is still up on much of what the thinking is in PA. He says Santorum is appreciated for not using attack ads and speaking to issues. BUT he does not think Rick is liberal or middle of the road enough to win many states. He lost election in PA. He is too liberal for the really conservative deep South and Tea Party.

Newt is horribly obnoxious but may be the only candidate who can defeat BO. Fight fire with fire. He's smart and knows how to control Congress. He is one of them but they are afraid of him because the ruling geezers since Newt was no longer so influential would lose their power if Newt gets in. So, the geezers want the Mormon to win because he is more liberal and more of a yes man.

If Santorum gets a few more primary victories and Newt does well and wins in some of the large industrialized states there will be an open GOP convention and that will be a blood bath for all the GOP candidates. Not beneficial. Airing the false lies and dirty laundry will harm them all in a bid against BO.

Santorum doesn't have the war chest to defeat BO but may get money if he keeps winning primaries.

The carpet bombing, like in FL, of attack ads works. Should not but it does. Santorum has had a free ride so far on attack ad stuff because it has been aimed at the leaders and he looked benign. NOW he will have to go on the defensive or on the attack. Let's see how he does with that. I do not think he is believable as a bulldog. More of a Labrador in my view.

I wish we could win with a candidate who has the moral credentials Santorum seems to display.

The GOP may be trying to shoot the party in the foot again.

I like Dr. Paul but he'd never win nationally nor do I think he's got what it takes to lead the Party or the country.

Well, there you have my thoughts and opinion on Santorum for what they're worth.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Torn Meniscus and the Good Fight of Faith

It's been several days since I updated you about Mom.  The delay is not because there has been a lack of activity, but because there has been a lot.

Since she cannot put any weight on her left leg, we help her move using a sit-down walker.

We have learned ways to get her to recliner chair, to toilet, to bed with the least amount of pain possible.  That said, her pain at times can still be very bad, and there is a level of unpredictability to it.  Tuesday night she didn't get any sleep; last night she got a pretty decent sleep.

Part of the complication is in dealing with the pre-existing problems of her osteoporosis and colon paralysis, both of which cause pain of their own.  Not being able to walk at all has only intensified this.

On Tuesday we received the results of her latest Dexa-scan (bone density measurement).  The results were a blend of encouragement and fear: her spinal bones have improved about 3% in the last year, while her hip bones have lost about 9%.  A hip fracture would most likely ultimately prove fatal for someone in her condition.

Today a friend who is a good physical therapist came over.  After examining her leg, he believes she has a torn meniscus which would not improve without surgery.  But a verifying MRI is in order first.  If she has surgery, a post-op stay in a rehab facility might be needed.

For a healthier person, such an outpatient surgery and subsequent rehab are no great hurdle; for someone in Mom's condition, they are a daunting challenge. 

But the challenge is not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual.  And the challenge is not just for Mom, but also (to a lesser degree) for Dad and I and all who care about her.

The fight is for faith.  The battle is to believe.  To trust that God has a wise and loving purpose in this, as in all suffering.  That all things (whether they be miraculous healing or surgery and rehab) will work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  That this momentary, light affliction is producing for Mom an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17).  That the things which are seen (like Dexa-scan reports and terrible pain and our house in disarray) are temporary, but the things which are not seen (like the honor God will receive through this, and our eventual joy of forever being in the presence of Jesus, with other redeemed sinners) are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). 

As Paul reminds us, the fight of faith is a good fight.  (For a wonderful message from John Piper about why it's a good fight, click here.)  And we are grateful for your help in this fight.  Through your prayers and encouragement, you have been strengthening our grip on God.  (1 Sam. 23:16)  Thank you.  And please, don't quit!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mom's Home -- No Break!

Hi friends,
The X-rays showed no breaks or fractures. Mom apparently just has a very bad sprain. Praise God!
She is back home now, alert and in good spirits.
The big hurdle for the next few days will be getting to the toilet and back to the recliner. Her leg is so painful that even these “simple” tasks are very challenging and slow.
But we praise God that she is home and not in the hospital!
Thanks for your prayers and friendship.

Mom in E.R.

This morning while taking her shower Mom stood on one leg (as she normally does) so she could wash the other leg.  Standing on the right leg went fine, but when she stood on her left leg to wash her right leg, she heard and felt a loud snap in or just below her left knee.  The pain was excruciating.  Dad was able to get her seated on her walker and get her dried off and dressed.  

Then she came out, ate a little breakfast, and called several people on the phone to get advice on how to proceed.  She has no pain unless she moves her leg or puts weight on it.  We suspect a fracture due to her osteoporosis.

It became clear quickly that getting an X-ray at the ER would be necessary.  But we were unsure how to transport her there.  She didn’t think she could get into the car.  But she didn’t want to be laid flat on an ambulance gurney (which would really hurt her back).  

Then we learned that the hospital could transport her sitting up (the back of the gurney comes up).  So a very nice crew from the fire department came out and very carefully helped her get on the gurney and transported her to the emergency room.

Dad followed in the station wagon.  I’m here at home for now.  I’ll update you as I learn more.

Her attitude is good. Thanks for your prayers! 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Classic Short Story for Valentine's

In my late teens, my literature textbook included an abridged version of Margaret Deland's short story, Many Waters.  I recently found the full version, which is even better.  It's a gripping tale of guilty conscience versus holy love.  You might call it a real romance story.  Why not read -- and discuss -- it with some teens today?  Here are a few discussion questions to get you started.
  • What motivated the righteousness of Amy?
  • What motivated the repentance of Thomas?
  • Do you believe Mrs. Deland (the author) was herself a Christian, or just a product of a Christianized culture?
  • How would you improve the message of this story if you were re-writing it?