Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Review

This has been a year of not going anywhere. Just home, Church, and the grocery store for the most part.

Each time we had travel plans, they got canceled.

Wes started working for Appriss in the Summer, after contracting there for about seven months.

Commute to Louisville every day.

Months of me without a vehicle.

Summer at the pool down the street.

My fibromyalgia is WAY BETTER than it used to be. So is my hypoglycemia. Thanks be to God, and the guaifenesin protocol. I'm firmly convinced that it is the Holy Spirit who inspired doctors and scientists to make helpful and life-giving discoveries and breakthroughs with medicine and knowledge. Glory to God for all things.

Homeschooling all four kids now, instead of just the three youngers. Loving how our family life is. Kids loving each other, being kind and peaceful.

Kids learning German! How cool is that????

Jessamine county homeschool coop for Biology and P.E. in the fall. Still debating about what the spring semester will look like.

After-Christmas trip to Missouri cancelled. Boo sniff.

Weaned B off her meds in the spring. She seemed to be doing well...we thought.

GFCF diet attempt. SCD diet attempt. Psychosis.

B getting sick in December is definitely the low-light of the year. Nine days in UK hospital. Back on meds, this time for good, perhaps.

E is into Pokemon. Why, oh why did we ever put a deck in his Pascha basket???

M is a huge bookworm: Fanatsy fiction and a Garfield fan.

A loves to draw and is very good at it.

Harry Potter, book 7!

Getting to know and love our new priest and his family! Definitely one of the good parts of 2007.

Teaching a class and leading music at Vacation Church School at the Greek Orthodox Church...a good part.

Sunday morning kid's singing time at our parish.

Lovely toddlers and babies at Church to hold sometimes.

A baptismal gown and an altar cloth to sew.

Struggling with my weight, but not hard enough, obviously, since I gained weight in 2007 and didn't really start trying to do something about it until late in the year. Oh the passions!

Weight Watchers. It's like Orthodoxy: It has hooks to hang the struggle on. Structure, and a plan.

Feeling middle aged. A husband who has to worry about his cholesterol and me overweight. Sigh.

New friends: Lisa, Lisa, Elizabeth, Heidi, etc.

Wednesday night Bible Study at Communality. Such precious people!

Husband went on a men's retreat to Holy Cross Hermitage monastery. Wonderful for him. (A direct fruit of ROCOR and Moscow's healing, felt all the way into this end of the earth.) Now the monks are praying for my daughter and sent us some gifts, via Father Justin. What a blessing!

New next door neighbors: A smiling older couple who gave us a plate of Christmas cookies with a Christian Christmas card on it. Must return the joy for New Year with a loaf of sweet bread.

Discovering the joys of crocheting.

Back porch prayer space with icons and a sleeping bag, candle and a mug of something hot.

Matins with the birds.

Kids are all outgrowing their clothes. Do they PLAN to all be in a growth spurt at the same time????

God is good. It's just all life, isn't it?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A New Beginning

Well, I gained so much weight in December that I might as well count today as a new start. Me and everyone else in America, no doubt. I did learn something: That I rely far too much on food and drink for comfort, rather than turning to the Heavenly King....

I got to go to Vespers by myself this evening. B was having a rough day and so Wes stayed home with her and the other kids so I could go out to tea with some friends after prayers. I was hoding Ian (he's about 9 months old) during the service, and St. Herman helped him to calm down. I think St. Herman likes little wigggly baby boys. It was worth it to hold wiggly little Ian, though, because his mother got then to sing in the rather dimished choir this evening, and she has the voice of an angel. So beautiful to hear her sing.

Today was Wes' birthday. He's 38. I'll tease him mercilessly until I turn 38, three weeks from now. Just kidding. I think we are both feeling the whole "middle age" thing. I've got my resolution to loose weight, and he realizes that he needs to exercise for various health reasons. The family had cake and ice cream and I had a weight watchers thingy. I'd rather it have been sugar free, I think.

For Christmas I ended up getting a pedometer...a really good one, from Weight Watchers, and a walking DVD kit, and a tracker book. The pedometer has so many different cool modes. Among other things, it tracks my steps, tells me how far and also tells me at the end of the day how many activity points I've earned. I learned from it today that I am way less active than my imagination leads me to believe. It's hard to get in 10,000 steps, let me tell ya! My total so far today is at 9371 and that's with going for two walks, AND a trip to the grocery store AND chasing or bouncing Ian around at vespers. It's nice to have goals, though. Bald honesty is refreshing to the soul.

God have mercy, it's good to go to confession. I won't share details, of course, but darn it, it's good to go!

Please keep praying for my daughter. She's still having some huge struggles each day. Hallucinations, visual and auditory. Some scary stuff. Typically such a crisis can last around six months. If so, we almost have the first month down. Pray for us. God, have mercy.

So that's the update. I got fat again in December, like I said. I didn't gain back ALL the weight I'd lost, though. And I did learn some things about myself. So not all is a waste. God, have mercy.

Perhaps I'll do a year-end summary post like I did last year, before January 1st.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Post

Christ is born! Glorify Him, Alleluia!

"Those who sat in darkness have seen a great light." And for me this gospel truth really sunk in. I think this has probably been the darkest Christmas of my life. Wes and I are just grieving over our daughter. No, she's not all better. She might never be.

And into the dark world, where things like psychosis, and schizophrenia, and terrors exist, into this dark world of chronic disease and financial strain, of expensive doctors and medicines, of car troubles (Wes' car needs a new engine)...into THIS world God is born. He takes on our flesh and becomes Immanuel-God with us.

And there is a Kingdom, and it is not of this world. And we can be a part of it, and all this stressful, grief-inducing stuff is put into it's place. The suffering has an end and the cross hums it's glory. Yes, there is death. But because of Christ there is the resurrection. And because he was born in a manger we have hope. Not just a sentimental feeling to pull us through until the weather changes. Hope that pulls us through, rather, until that day when it will always be day and His Kingdome is fully revealed to us.

Puts things in perspective, it does.

Christ is born, glorify Him. Alleluia!

Last night during Compline prayers, somehow joy crept into my heart. A joy in Christ. It can only be the Holy Spirit, because there's no human explanation for it. I'm not so naive as to think the grief is over. Grief doesn't work that way. It is slow. I'm not so naive as to think I won't get angry or upset, or freaked out tomorrow. But I thank God for today's joy.

Christ is born, glorify Him. Alleluia!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

St Nicholas Seoul Christmas Liturgy

From all over the world!

Christmas Carol Singing

Snippets of Christmas Caroling around the world. This is the St. Marys Orthodox Church choir, 2nd place in the Kairali carol singing competition.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Afghan fight for the dinner bill

This is funny. I can't understand a word and it's still funny. Hope you enjoy it, too.

USA and Torture

I think anyone would have to be really naive to think that our government does not regularly find ways to flout Geneva conventions, commit various war crimes, and torture prisoners. The other guy is doing it, so why can't we? Or why can't we at least get "the other guy" in on the act and let him do it for us? (Just for the record, I truly and deeply wish America were the white hat wearing, upstanding nation that we like to image ourselves to ourselves as being. I know we are not, and it saddens me, and I'm against torture of all forms.

Peace, goodwill towards all men, and all that stuff. 'Tis the season...

So here is my small offering for Geneva-convention friendly softening-up techniques our government might consider using instead of heinous activities such as waterboarding and electric shock. Just looking around at the faces I've seen, I think people exposed to this stuff regularly get pretty worn out and could use a break:

-acquire those couch beds that hospitals provide for family members to sleep on, for the POW's. Fail to supply instructions on how to set them up properly, so for the 50% who sleep on them half way extended, they will break down and give us information much sooner than the others, but even for the fully-extened sleepers, I'd only give it a month.

-Pipe bad Christmas music into prison cells at top volume 24/7. If this takes too long, pipe in an overlay of incessant tantruming toddler screams.

-Give the prisoners everything they need, but make sure it's poorly made plastic crap version from China that breaks down after the second use. Do not provide replacement nor means of disposal. Do not supply instructions on assembly.

-Strap prisoner to a chair and place it in the pink and purple Barbie and Bratz doll aisle at the toy store for an indefinite amount of time.

-If the Christmas music doesn't work, switch to anything from High School musical 1 or 2.

-If prison rations don't work, feed them hospital food.

-Assign each prisoner a nerdy ten-year old who speaks incessantly of nothing but Pokemon, whether or not the prisoner is actually listening or comprehending the nuances of what is being said about the game.

-Make the prisoners fold laundry while a toddler is standing by to unfold and scatter the laundry as fast as it can be folded.



But seriously:

God have mercy on ALL those who are imprisoned without cause. (And also/even those who are imprisoned with cause). Have mercy on them, and show them your comfort.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Feeling Low

I wish Christmas were not next week. I have no plans. They got cancelled. Now I suppose I have to figure out what to cook. I don't want to cook. I think I'm going to buy a frozen lasagna and some pies and be done with it.

I'm feeling very low today. Last night, I was already tired and my husband was working late. At 8:30 he called me to tell me his car wouldn't start and that he'd called a tow truck. So I loaded the kids in the van, got gas, and some caffeine, and drove the hour and fifteen minutes to Louisville to pick him up. And then we waited for the tow truck together, got some snacks, and headed home. It was midnight when we got here.

My eyes have been bothering me. Seems like I need new glasses about once a year. I'm so sick of that. Even my reading glasses are less than perfect for reading. And my regular glasses just make me tired. But I am tired. To the core, and perhaps that is the only trouble. I'm going to wait a while before running out to get my eyes checked.

I get the feeling that everyone wants everything to be OK. "Oh, you are back in Church...that's so wonderful!" And it is...BUT... Like the immediate crisis is over, but there is a long term reality to deal with here, and things are definitely not back to "normal" yet, if there ever was such a thing. There's still daily confusion over many things, daily tears, being scared. Not being quite right. Waiting and hoping and praying that the psych meds will continue to wax effective. Hoping she'll be able to resume school work in January and wondering if the second semester of Biology lab will happen.

And these meds have such grave side effects. But those side effects are less bad than the reality without them.

Little things are getting to me today: I need a hair cut. My skin is awful, probably from all those brownies I was pigging out on in the hospital. And it's December and the rest of my skin is dry and scaly no matter how much lotion a slather on. I'm achy and feeling the fibro today. I doubt I'll do my exercise video. I'm struggling hard to keep my eating where it should be, and that depresses me. I was doing so well in that department without a struggle before all this happened. But I carry on because it is the ONE thing I can do to take care of myself in all of this (Ok, that, and getting the sleep I need). Perhaps it is iconic. And it's not about looks. It's about not wanting to be lugging around an extra forty-five pounds of unnecessary fat that I don't really have the energy to be shlepping.

Last night I had to drive over to Louisville because Wes' car broke down. Did I say this already? It's in the shop today, awaiting a diagnosis. Our van also needs some major work done on it. How pathetic is that? We are so totally that thrift-store and walmart shopping uncool family with the schizo kid, the fat mom, and the broken down vehicles....

I wish it weren't Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What's Going On?

Today, B is crocheting a cute hat. M is busy trying to learn the dance aerobics section of the new Weight Watchers workout DVD I bought. (I got worn out on the cardio basics section.) A is on the computer and E is lazing around.

My plan is to get some room cleaning done today and then take at least some of the kids to the dollar store to do their Christmas shopping.

B is getting better each day, but woke up this morning with tears, wondering if the government was planning on killing all the autistic kids. Scary thought! Paranoid.

I got nice and fat over the past few weeks. So, now I'm trying to get back in the game with Weight Watchers. Hard to do the week before Christmas. I'd lost ten, and then regained almost six. I refuse to be depressed about it. I forge ahead.

But it does show me I need to learn better coping mechanisms. I guess I'm an emotional/stress eater. Duh. And I didn't even realize.

We made it to Church yesterday, which was absolutely wonderful.

Family movie night last pm. We watched High School Musical 2. Popcorn, fish sticks, veggies and dip. Fun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Every little bit counts

Each day B gets a bit better and better. Today we went for a short walk, and she spent some time playing her recorder beautifully, just like before. She also has been working on a gorgeous crocheted shawl that is so very soft. We found this light blue yarn...several skeins of it...at the thrift store one time. She let me work on the shawl while I was in the hospital and she was too sick, but most of the work on it is hers, and the project is hers, so I need to find something of my own to do.

She also took several long naps, and got carsick. If you are praying for us, please pray that: her meds will no longer make her nauseous and headachy and dizzy, that her energy can improve, and that she will continue to improve to the point of starting school work up again in January.

The doctor we went to see today reminded us of this fact: This is physical. Just because we don't yet have the right test to pinpoint exactly what is going wrong in her brain, it is still physical. Psychiatric problems are physical problems. This cannot be stated enough. It needs to be demystified, and it needs to be treated like any other medical condition that must be managed long term, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

I think the reason psych issues make people uncomfortable is that they affect behavior and that affects the community. It affects social interaction, how a person is, behaves, responds. These things can really interfere with the quality of a person's life for themselves, and also for the persons in their community. And because it affect the community, it is somehow larger than an individuals bodily limits. But the good news is, it's not catching. So it doesn't affect the larger community the way something like HIV would.

Get a movie like K-Pax, or Beautiful Mind, or Rainman, or what's that one with Richard Gere where he plays a bi-polar guy? Good examples of how it must be so much worse for the person suffering than it is for the person's surrounding the suffering person. I'm thinking especially of K-Pax, and the people in the background at the mental hospital. Look at them, and know that underneath all the drooling catatonic weirdness, persons are aware and thinking and knowing. This is humbling and frightening to consider, when I know that I (and I suspect most persons) have that natural sense of revulsion that wants to keep this sort of thing at arm's length.

But this was my own daughter. Arm's length was never a consideration.

You see, last night, when I was tucking her in, she told me that she remembers everything from when she was catatonic. It was so scary. As an outsider, (and this is true with observing Autism as well) we see unresponsiveness and an inability to communicate, and we think: "No one is home." But this is not so. The reality is, someone is very much at home, but they are locked in, and can't get out. Ears can hear, and eyes can see, but tongues cannot speak and bodies cannot move.



God have mercy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Auuuugh!

I was out on my back porch reading a book, bundled in a sleeping bag. Reading. At home. I come in, and on the dining room table is a blueberry cobbler and a CD.

None of the kids saw or heard anyone come in and drop it off.

I am so creeped out. Someone came into my house. While I was at home, without me knowing it. Someone I know most likely...but still.

Update: I figured out who it was. Safe person, etc. ...but still...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Everything's Changed: Random Thoughts

There really is such a thing as peace that passes all understanding. I have lived it this past week. Mostly. I had some bad moments last Monday when she went catatonic and I didn't know what was going on, before all the medical testing was done.

I'm still processing everything I lived through, so the blogging will be much about all of this for a while, I"m afraid.

It's something holy, helping a helpless human being. We do it all the time with our infants, but when a person is physically mature (or more mature) and yet helpless, see the holiness of it becomes more obvious. The vulnerability of the very young, very old, and mentally infirm was highlighted for me. "Whatever you have done unto the least of these..." came to mind as I watched my intelligent, brilliant teenage daughter grasp a popsicle by the frozen part like a baby would, forget how to chew and swallow and loose all sense of self dignity.

We have such the wrong idea of what life is, if we think it's about financial stability, or meeting career goals, or looking good, or feeling good, or anything like that. Life is about that journey towards God. Nothing more, nothing less. And nothing but our own choices can take that journey away from us. God have mercy on me and forgive me for my worries! That's going to be a big struggle for me in all of this, I think. As a mother, too, I long to drag my children along with me into heaven. Lord have mercy on us all.

Everything's changed. There's a new dynamic at work here. A liminality: time outside of time in which there is a waiting, a preparation for that which is to come. That's all that life is, anyway. And Reality breaks in with "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" on a regular basis to remind me of what is really real, and of how very much dust I am (and all of this is, really). And the truth is, everything's changing has nothing really to do with my daughter getting sick, or anything like that. This just afforded, perhaps, a better glimpse of reality for now, before the wool is pulled over my eyes again.

I'm so tired!

We got up early this morning because B had an 8:30 appointment with a therapist. This is the guy who is going to be doing all her psych testing, to determine the extent of psychosis/neurosis, what is what, etc. At least, that's what I've been told. Seeing him is part of the package deal with her psychiatrist...can't do one without the other, which is good I suppose: They are being thorough. I just wish it weren't so expensive. Well, we'll have our deductible met by the end of February, most likely, between psych, therapist and meds.

But over-all, it felt like a big waste of time today. We got re-acquainted. Three hundred dollars of re-acquainted. How lovely. I truly hope Humana is cooperative about this. I guess there are worse things in the universe than financial ruin, because that is what this will do to us if Humana doesn't pay.

On the way home I stopped at Kroger to pick up a few things, hoping to be out long enough to swing in to Weight Watchers for weigh-in on my way home. That didn't happen, as B got rather greener and greener in the store, and I cut my grocery shopping short so she could get sick in the car as we headed straight home. I am going to have to find a different weight watchers meeting to go to. Perhaps one on Saturday. All this, and now I have to keep taking care of "me", too. How do I do that?

This illness of my dd's changes so many things. She can no longer be the babysitter, and she herself needs help in all sorts of ways, for instance. I'll need to take a nap this afternoon so that I can make a Walmart trip tonight, I suppose. It's a learning process.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Home!

Thank you all for all of your prayers. We got home this afternoon. Has it really been NINE DAYS?????

For the sake of my daughter's privacy, I don't feel comfortable being very specific about her diagnosis or treatment here on the blog. We ruled out any medical (germs, poisons, toxins, damage) cause for what was going on, and then started experimenting with meds, and yesterday finally found a combination that works, after trying two other different things that did not work. So, we are grateful.

I can say nothing but good about the doctors, residents, nursing staff and other workers at the University of Ketucky Medical Center. Everyone was WONDERFUL.

This is going to be long-term, so continued prayers always appreciated.

And God is good. And we felt God's goodness in so many ways this week. Many of those ways were very mundane, practical, ho-hum, but they made a huge difference: The moment last night when my dd could eat microwaved chef boy-ar-dee ravioli with a fork like a thirteen year old again, and not need to be fed. The first time she laughed again, when I said something about my creaky old bones. The availability of clean linens, and the fact that they let me do the mom thing by letting me raid the supply closet whenever needed. The fridges of food and drink for late night snacks (or whenever snacks). The availability of the Chaplain, who also happened to be a friend from Church. The priestly visits and prayers with Father Justin. All the visitors we received. The fact that my parents came to help out for a few days. The meals. The child care people gave to my other kids. My warm red sleeping bag. Brownies. And the help being given to rearrange our house....Many good things.

Lowlights included deep fried mac and cheese nuggets on the food cart, catatonia, eating too much, interrupted sleep, skin allergy to adhesives, long waits for everything, having to get stuck nine times before receiving sedation, MRI, CT, EEG, ECG, LP, vomiting from Risperdol, pressure to drink enough fluids, loneliness, isolation and boredom.

I have a real sense of peace about all of this, though...at least for now. I'm sure I'll have my moments.

Why does my beloved daughter have to have such a heavy cross?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Update

My daughter is still sick. The hospital is wonderful, facilities, staff, set up, doctors, all of it. The MRI came out clean, the CT came out clean. Nothing showed up on the EEG. (But they might do a 24 hour long one at some point.) Her neurological symptoms are getting worse and she's experiencing delirium. I'm staying with her, mostly, and don't have access to the computer while there.

It's like a medical mystery...like a House M.D. episode, only the doctors are nice people who care about the patients, who listen well, and who are actually rather cautious. In real life they don't throw meds at a situation willy nilly the way they do on that show. But the show is still fun to watch.

Actual life in the hospital: I've beaten a track between our room and the coffee pot. I raid the clean linens closet on a regular basis and I'm the one helping with the bathroom trips when I'm there. I'm sure the nurses all love me for it. UK feeds the parents as well as the kids, and now that I know how to fold out the couch properly, I can actually get comfy there. (The first night included distorted contortions on a half sized couch bed.) Staying in the hospital does include lots of waking up in the night to help a moaning and groaning girl, or to chat with the nurse who does the vitals, that sort of thing.

But I know the chaplain personally and all the doctors and residents are so pleasant.

She could be in a while, figuring out what's going on and then treating it. My mom is coming to take care of the kids. Thank God for her! My Church family has been wonderful, too. We can feel everyone's prayers and support. Keep 'em coming. I'll update again when I can. I promise I won't leave you all hanging.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Please Pray!

Dear blog readers,

Please pray for my daughter, Bethany! She's in the hospital. So far the only test that has come back abnormal are elevated ammonia levels in her blood. We do not know what is causing it, or the symptoms that led us to take her to the ER tonight.

I give thanks to God that we were able to find a babysitter for our other kids very quickly this evening. Now I am home and I'm supposed to try to sleep, while my husband is at the hospital with her. Tomorrow we will switch places.

Pray for the doctors and for her healing. She just participated in a service of Holy Unction last Wednesday. She is scared and confused and in pain. I'm scared and peaceful and exhausted, all at the same time. It is strange. Lord, have mercy!

Matins and Advent

Lately I've been praying Matins out on the back porch. The sun comes up and the light of my candles in the darkness fades as the sky pales, yellow, gray and purple behind the familiar tree branch lace. The birds join me on some days, but not this morning. I could see my breath in the cold, like clouds of dubious incense.

And these prayers have become my Advent journey. It seems particularly fitting that Matins prayers start out with the "end of the story": Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among me. (three times). Followed by: O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. (twice).

Ok, so there's an element of faith there, and dependence on God's work, and not my own. I need that, early in my morning. Lately I've been all tangled up in need of God, snarled feelings and stressed. Even first thing in the morning. I'm glad His mercy is new every morning. It is God who opens my lips.

What follows next in Matins are the "six psalms". The six psalms literally lead us from our desperate need of God, through to a declaration of hope and faith, and then praise, and supplication. They are (LXX numbering): Psalm 3 "O Lord, why are the multiplied that afflict me...", Paslm 37 " O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, nor chasten me in Thy wrath...", Psalm 62 "O God my God, unto Thee I rise early at dawn..." (an old favorite of mine!), Psalm 87 "O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee...", Psalm 102 "Bless the Lord, O my soul...", Psalm 142 "O Lord, hear my prayer, give ear unto my supplication in Thy truth...". After this the "Glory to the Father..." and then three times Alleluia (which, one must not forget means "praise the Lord").

Then Matins leads us towards a declaration of the salvation of the Lord: His coming in the flesh. "God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." There is nothing broken in the human condition that the incarnation of God does not begin to fix. He is our salvation and our hope. Human nature joined with the Divine nature, enabling us now to also become partakers of His divinity by grace... This is followed, on ordinary days by the Magnificat of Mary: Her declaration of praise and prophecy as she receives Christ into her womb, the God made flesh, Immanuel. "My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my savior..." And so the advent journey is fulfilled in this short service done each morning with a conclusion of the Doxology. We come full circle and declare at the end that which we brought to mind at the beginning:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.
We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.
O Lord, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty: O Lord, the Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; and O Holy Spirit. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy on us; Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father, Amen.

Every day will I bless Three, and I will praise Thy name for ever, yea, for ever and ever.

Vouchsafe, O Lord to keep us this day without sin. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Thy name unto the ages. Amen.

Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes. (thrice)

Lord, Thou hast been our refuge in generation and generation. I said: O Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee. O Lord, unto Thee have I fled for refuge, teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God; for in Thee is the fountain of life, in Thy light shall we see light. O continue Thy mercy unto them that know Thee.

Holy God, Holy mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (thrice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Today is salvation come unto the world; let us sing to Him Who arose from the tomb, and is the Author of our life. For having destroyed death by death, He hath given us the victory and great mercy. " (Jordanville Prayer Book, pp. 93-95)

And it ends with the cross and the resurrection. The whole story. So even as during Advent we anticipate the joy of his coming, the hope, a newborn baby, even here there is a cross, and even here there is His resurrection.

It just all makes me think: How very very good God is!