Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why The Market Continues to Decline

Indiana Jane posted this on Twitter and I thought it was well written and very thorough.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Turning It Around

Over the years, I've had many friends who are Christian, but not Lutheran, and generally, this means we have a different view of baptism. Usually, it means that they have an objection to one of two things, or both: 1). That a child is baptized without first declaring their faith. 2). (which is a variant) that the child did not have a choice in the matter.

Sometimes they state that there is nothing in the Bible that specifically says to baptize infants. Often, we as Lutherans point to Christ's "Suffer not the little children to come unto me" with the Greek word for children meaning "infant." Also, it says to baptize nations, Acts records entire households being baptized, and of course, Paul's declaring baptism to be the new circumcision, with circumcision being on the 8th day of life.

Lutherans also point to the verse "No man can come to the Spirit unless the Holy Spirit draws Him" and other such verses that shape our doctrine that we do not choose Christ, Christ chooses us. We cannot come to faith through our own understanding but only through the Holy Spirit. One way we receive the Holy Spirit is through baptism, and there is proof in the Bible that infants can have the Holy Spirit and faith - John the Baptist danced in Elizabeth's womb when Mary, newly pregnant with the Messiah, came near.

I don't ever remember seeing a place in the Bible where a child comes to a particular age and chooses his faith or direction in that faith. Just as we cannot choose our status as sinners, those of us brought up in the faith cannot choose our status as believers, either. The Bible is full of examples of this.

Some that come to mind for me are:

Noah's children -- Even though they are clearly grown at this point, it never says that they are welcome on the ark because of their own faith, but because of Noah's.

Descendants of Abraham -- Isaac did not offer to be a sacrifice or to be the one to procure the line of Abraham into a great nation. In fact, when Sarah took it into her own hands to help along God's promise of giving him an heir, God rejected it. Joseph surely didn't choose to be sent to Egypt, yet God used him mightily. The children of Israel were God's people not because they were worthy of it and constantly choosing to be loyal - God chose them, and He was the one continually keeping that covenant alive.

When God rescued the Israelites from Egypt, he led them through the Red Sea...baptizing them as His own as they walked through it. Yet, He didn't say, those of you who want to come, come forth. He led them through, young and old, weak and strong, those with faith and those who didn't. He brought them through the desert and to the Promised Land.

Infants and grownups alike made this journey, infants and grownups alike celebrated the Passover and other feasts, and the instruction from Scripture was to tell the children why they do this as they ask and to raise them to know God.

Samuel didn't chose to serve in the tabernacle or to be a prophet. Hannah decided his life for him before he was even conceived, and God took him as his prophet. David didn't choose to be king, but he faithfully served God. No prince to follow would choose either.

I'm just going through and listing things that come to mind, and looking at the Bible, a first born son was presented soon after he was born and the atoning sacrifice made for him. All boys were circumcised on the 8th day. They were brought into the covenant, not choosing to participate in it...and Paul clearly states that baptism is the new circumcision.

Basically, in this argument, we are often put on the defensive. When the world says "prove to me that we are to baptize infants" we need to say "prove to me that we are not supposed to." Because it isn't there. It just isn't. There are words that often embrace infants - nations, households, families, children...these are to be included in baptism. The Jewish faith includes infants in the covenant. Yet Evangelicals state " have to confess your faith before you engage in this symbolic act." We need to say "but where does it say that in Scripture?" and "Where does it say that it is merely symbolic?"

I'd love to find out what is the argument and the history behind excluding infants and young children from being one in the death and resurrection of Christ, to find why they don't need it, why they wouldn't want us to give that to them, when they welcome God's gifts that sustain their lives, which flow through us their parents, in every other way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The LCMS Is Sinning Against Issues, Etc. and You

The LCMS is threatening a law suit against Pastor Todd Wilken & Producer Jeff Schwarz for using the name "Issues, Etc." on their internet radio show, despite the fact that they have indicated no future desire to use it and in fact, the Synod let the trademark expire TEN years ago, years before they cancelled the show.

The current administration is continuing to try to exercise restraint over the topics discussed on the show, just as they restrained them from covering topics that would call into question the direction this adminstration has taken when they were still on KFUO.

If you have read Pastor Matt Harrison's statement "It's Time" (linked in the sidebar above), you will know what a complete financial mess the LCMS is in, and the lack of direction we have in theology and practice. The fact that they would devote synodical funds to this while missionaries are being pulled from the field because of lack of funds and ministries are being denied their designated funds is shameful. Please sign the petition and let the boys in the Purple Palace know what us Plebians in the Pews think.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Survival With Babies

I think it is rather strange, really, that I have been a La Leche League Leader for ten years (newly retired), I am a certified lactation consultant, and a mom of two who breastfed for a grand total of 7 1/2 years, and I honestly never blog about breastfeeding or babies. Well, since there really is no one who has to subject themselves to my vast resources of knowledge at meetings anymore, maybe it is time that I wrote about it here. I've lately found myself surrounded by babies at hey, while it is on my mind, I'll write the things I've always meant to write:

1. Breastfeeding is awesome. It gives the baby the perfect food...changes not only depending on the time of life for the baby, but the TIME OF DAY. It provides nutrients exactly as needed (thorugh a biological feedback loop that they think occurs because the Montgomery glands are sensitive to certain enzymes in the baby's saliva), immunological protection (that again, through the Montgomery glands, the mammary glands can produce antibodies to germs the MOTHER HASN"T BEEN EXPOSED TO), and I could go on and on and on and on.

2. Just because breastfeeding is awesome, doesn't mean it is easy. Especially the first several weeks. Actually, in a couple of months it is so easy that you'll wonder why people ever mess with bottles or formula. However, in the first weeks, the baby has never had to eat before it was born, just as the new mom has never had to figure out how to feed a baby through her breasts. Positioning can be a big deal. When the baby is 3 months old, it can be doing backflips while nursing and it doesn't hurt. When the baby is little though, leaning over just a tad can cause pain. A lip could get tucked in, a tongue might be in the wrong place. But it shouldn't hurt and nipples should not crack and bleed. If it does hurt, find someone (a La Leche League Leader, a lactation consultant, or even an experienced mom). There are ways to make it better, and often better VERY quickly. 90% of all breastfeeding pain is positioning. It helps to have someone take a look.

Some people just expect it to come naturally. Occasionally it does. But not very often. I tell moms that it is like learning to drive. The first time I got behind a wheel, all of a sudden, 25 miles an hour felt FAST, and keeping track of the speed, the mirrors, the guy next to me, and everything else was dang hard. Now I do it without really thinking about it. New moms have never breastfed before and it is hard to get a stiff, flailing baby to your breast and get everything right. It takes loads of practice. And as I said before, the baby has never done this before, either. I find that most moms find it gets easier somewhere around 6 weeks.

Learning to nurse in public helps with feeling tied down. Most states have protected the right (and none have prohibited it). It is not indecent, even if skin shows. A blanket over the shoulder often advertises the fact that you are nursing rather than hides it, and my kids would not tolerate a blanket between me and them. However, it generally is possible to nurse discreetly by pulling up your shirt from the waist and letting it sit on the breast where the baby's head meets. It is very hard to even tell that the baby is nursing. With a button up blouse, unbutton from the bottom rather than from the top - that way the neck and breast isn't fully revealed, and again, let the shirt flap hide the top of the breast (lots of moms I know wear belly bands - knit bands around the belly that keep the breezes out and hide skin). Practice by sitting in front of a mirror. (though babies will at certain times grab the shirt and pull up). Baby slings can help, too. Nojo, Maya Wrap, and Over the Shoulder Baby Holder are the big brands -- but there are others...Google them. Slings take practice, and sometimes when a baby doesn't like it, he will like it in a couple of weeks. Or he will like a different position.

3. As I said, the baby has never had to eat before it was born. Out of any system, the baby's digestive system is the most immature. Nourishment went straight into the blood stream through the umbilical cord, and the stomach and intestines and such just sat there biding their time. So often, it takes a baby time to learn how to get that digestion thing down...and often it is the same time as they are kind of getting that breathing thing it takes a while...and it is hard to do both at the same time. When it is extreme, we call it colic. Colic is loads of screaming from 3 weeks to 3 months, usually in the evening, for about 3 hours straight.

4. But even when it is not colic, babies are often very fussy in the evening, during the same phase of life. There are lots of reasons for that. "THEY" (the omniscient "they") seem to think that it is said immature digestive system. Also, it tends to be the busy time at night. The electric lights are on, which may bother the baby more than we know. Everyone is stressed after getting dinner done and dishes done (or if they aren't doing it, they are stressed that they aren't doing it).

5. Babies do sometimes show reactions to foods (more often than most parents know, really). Shadows under the eyes, stuffiness (newborns do not generally get colds), clicking while nursing, abdominal pain, a rash between the buttocks that is smooth and burnlike, green, mucusy stools -- can all be signs of a food sensitivity. Chances are, if you bring your baby to the doctor, he will look at you like you are full of it. Dairy is the most common. Cowsmilk (at least pasteurized cows milk) has huge proteins and passes through the milk and causes problem. It is the protein, not the lactose. A baby that is truly lactose intolerant is in serious trouble. Real lactose intolerance doesn't show up until 7 or 8 years old, because human milk has more lactose in it than any other milk, and lactose is VERY important for brain growth.

But taking foods out of the mothers diet (one at a time) can help. Eliminate one type for two weeks and see if there is a change. Dairy is the first (and you want to eliminate anything with casein, sodium caseinate, or whey is important. Look at all labels, you'll be amazed what it is in); followed by soy (and 1/2 of all babies that react to dairy will react to soy...same problem with that huge protein); followed by eggs (and look at labels for albumin; wheat (avoid all gluten); and citrus. Chances are, if you had a lot of it when you were pregnant...that is your culprit. But it might not be. That is the first place to look, though. If you notice an improvement, you probably are pretty sure you found your culprit. If you are not sure, reintroduce a bit to see if the baby reacts again. With dairy, some babies will tolerate cheese and yogurt (somewhat predigested) but won't tolerate milk, cream, or ice cream (sigh)

6. Moms in our culture are expected to do way too much too soon. In many cultures, mothers get breaks of several weeks before they are expected to be out in public, or even allowed to be. Jews have 40 days of uncleanness before the mother is expected to keep a kosher kitchen or participate in prayers and the lifestyle again. Muslims, the same thing. Even in Orthodox Christianity, it is common to treat the mother as a shut-in and bring communion to her until six weeks. The only time she comes out with the baby is for the baptism. This sabbatical is merciful....the most important thing at this time is the baby and the mom getting to know each other and figure each other out and only deal with the basics of life. When family is around, they are obligated to help...not be entertained.

Often, we expect the mom to be up and moving and have her act together within the first week or two. That's not right. She is recovering from the birth, her hormones are all over the place, and the baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. It is a stressful, life-changing time. Dad and mom need to do all they can to ensure a quiet adjustment and being as available to each other as possible, as well as support from outside the immediate family. If you are a friend, offer to clean something, do a load of laundry, or hold the baby while mom takes a shower or a nap. However, most of her instinct are going to be that she wants to stay close to the if she turns that down, just offer to help anyway possible. Some feel guilty for sometimes saying "I AM bringing over some food and would like to help you while you relax" can help.

6. Family bed is a lifesaver when it comes to caring for a baby, especially a breastfeeding baby. But what I would've liked someone to tell me was that it is really hard during the first several weeks. The baby is just too small to latch on easily from that side, and latching on even in a regular position and nursing is still a skill being learned. However, getting past that first growth spurt at around 5 or 6 weeks makes a HUGE difference. That is also about the time that breastfeeding gets easier on the whole. Turning on the light to see what is going on also kind of defeats the purpose and wakes the baby up completely. A lot of moms recommend having a small flashlight by the bed or a booklight. But be careful of shining an LED right into the baby's eyes.

7. Oh yeah...that growth spurt that occurs around 5 or 6 weeks (sometimes 4). All of a sudden, the baby wants to nurse CONSTANTLY...when you put him down, he wakes back up again and is fussing and gets scary. Often, when I've had a mom tell me "I just didn't make enough milk" I find that it happened at six weeks. What happened was the baby hit a growth spurt, the mom panicked that the baby was nursing all the time, gave the baby a bottle, and baby got full and went to sleep after downing a whole bunch of formula. But then baby didn't need to eat again for 3-4 hours, and when the baby went to the breast, the same thing ensued, until the baby was getting a lot of formula, and not nursing much, so the breasts slowed down on making milk.

The way it actually works is the mother gives up any hope of a sane day and surrenders to a day on the couch, nursing constantly. What goes in has to come out, so she watches the diapers to make sure that there are 5-7 wet disposables (bowel movements count) and at least one bowel movement). If that is happening the baby is getting enough. But what he is doing is stimulating the breasts to increase milk production, because the baby is growing. This goes on for one to two days, and then every body catches up. You stimulate milk production by frequency of nursing, that is why the baby gets back on soon after he gets off. And that is why also, if you are trying to increase your supply, you put the baby to the breast more often instead of longer, or pump halfway between feedings rather than right at the end of one.

But very few pieces of breastfeeding literature talk about growth spurts or frequency days. So I am.

8. Some babies nurse a lot or are just plain fussy. These are called "high need babies." And there is nothing wrong with them. They are just better at asking for what they need than some other babies are. All babies should be held most of the time, nursed frequently, and sleep close to their mom. It is how babies have been raised for most of history. By being close, they are safe. They crave contact, your breathing regulates theirs, and breastmilk digests quickly so they need to do it again soon (and sometimes they are just thirsty) -- not to mention it is soothing, and this big world is pretty overwhelming to a little baby.

But high need babies let you know they need it and they are not going to easily tolerate not getting it. From experience, high need babies tend to be very intelligent, very emotional, very in tune to others emotions, and very sensitive to their environment as they grow. Chances are, you can look at (at least) one of the parents and see that coming. Some babies seem to need time to adjust to life in this world. Others, kind of need ways of coping with it throughout the rest of their life -- but do pretty well all the same.

One thing that really helped me was something I read in The Discipline Book by Dr. William and Marth Sears (I recommend any book by the Sears'). They said something that really took the load off for me. They said that sometimes there is nothing you can do with a fussy baby but hold him and let him know that you love him even when he's fussy. And that is enough. You don't have to stop the fussiness (as much as you want to), but just love him through it. The fact that you are not leaving him to deal with it alone is exactly what he needs. That freed me from having to solve the fussy problem with my son and just love him through it. He did get through it - at least 90% of the time I think he did. But boy was it a huge relief when he smiled at me, because he was so fussy the first several weeks that I swore he thought I was an idiot. Oh wow did that smile make it better.

I'm sure I forgot a lot...but I'm sure some of you wise women out there can add to it. Warning: I delete Ezzo stuff (strict inflexible schedules, cry it out training). It's my blog. I don't like it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Obama Quote of the Week

Today at the National Prayer Breakfast:

"There is no god that condones taking the life of an innocent human being."

Personally, I think every prolife organization and even those who have sympathies with prolife organizations should take this quote as their slogan, attribute it to President Obama, and use these words as our guiding force, even if his actions show otherwise.

His actions are wrong. His words are completely right. I hope and pray they become a guiding force in our nation

Is it Really All that Bad?

Things that I have learned are not necessities --

2 cars (Jeff and I have lived on one car for almost our entire marriage. We just make it a point to live near where he works. We have a parsonage now, but haven't always had that luxury. At times, it isn't fun, but it isn't a necessity).

new cars -- plenty of cars work well, and they lose thousands of dollars of value the instant they come off the lot. Those thousands can be saved for occasional repairs in buying a good used car.

Really most anything new -- If you look at Ebay, garage sales, classified ads, thrift stores - you can get almost anything, and often quite nice. New is a luxury, and if we are concerned about our environment, we really do need to look at the retail worship that we have in our country.

T.V. -- we gave up t.v. for 3 years, and I am almost to the point of being willing to do it again. But boy people thought we were wierd....and the babysitter really earned her pay. I think she was about ready to hike our price. Our t.v. is about to die (stupid thing is only 5 years old) and I am not sure whether I'll replace it with the 18 inch that I have sitting in the basement that I've had since college, or if I'll just go unplugged.

Debt - and I am working hard to get out of it.

I realize all of this is considered unpatriotic in the day and age where the health of the economy is measured by the Consumer Confidence Index -- which basically means "how comfortable do I feel in accumulating more debt this month?" and that we are literally being told to go spend! I am not sure that I think it is a bad thing for our work force to shrink to the point where things lower in cost and families are forced to have one person raise the children while the other works...and to figure out how to live that way.

And I'm not saying that I live without anything new, in the dark, and never go to restaurants. I am just saying that I weigh the options of the worth of my time vs. the cost of the new object, etc.

So what about you? What have you found to be unnecessary?