Books vs. The Book

Editor’s introduction: Beth’sMomToo is one of the most energetic “amateur” students of the Bible we’ve ever met (including knowing enough Greek to shame most pastors). She is also supremely knowledgeable about ancient Egypt, so much so that I would now refuse to attend the MFA without her. The Wilcox Family is honored to have her as a guest author on our BLOG.

I recently read a book sent to me concerning “Women’s Ministries.” Now … I find myself appalled by most books written on this subject. They are usually saturated with the world’s ideas and have very little to say about God’s ideas. But this one caught my attention in the first line, “The subject of this book is not women; it is the Church of the Lord Jesus.” Good start! While the book was heavily steeped in the particular denominational beliefs of the authors, overall I found it to be quite encouraging.

But when I leafed through the Appendix, what did I find, but the same old, same old. Buy our material, read our book list. An article entitled, “How to Evaluate Bible Study Materials.” How about studying the Bible instead of “materials” about the Bible? And this line killed me, “You are not to teach a lesson. You are to facilitate a discussion based on an assigned chapter of the book” (i.e., the material you buy from them).

We just finished our Ladies’ Study on Philippians. We didn’t skip ahead and spend all of our time on the application. We didn’t read a verse here and there out of context. We didn’t read what other people thought the book said. We read the Bible, in context, the book as a whole, repetitively. We did analytical charts; we did word studies; we found the themes in the book; we divided up each chapter into subject groups and titled them; we outlined the entire epistle and paid attention to how Paul developed his ideas. We looked up cultural practices, enlightening a few areas for us. We read companion passages in Acts concerning Paul’s establishment of the church at Philippi and his subsequent relationship with them. We studied the history of the city of Philippi and the Roman Empire as it applied to what we were studying. We found out more about the people and places mentioned within the Epistle. We looked at the ruins of the city as they appear today, learning a little archaeology on the side. (You know I had to fit that in somehow!) 😉

We studied the Word! Why are Christians so eager to “study” the Bible any possible way, except … to study …the … Bible?! And what was the result of all this effort? Amazing! Week after week I saw “light bulbs” pop on as they really began to understand what the text was saying and what the implications were! I saw women convicted by God’s Word. I saw women who were excited about studying God’s Word. (One of my favorite moments was when one of the ladies ran up to me one week after the Sunday morning sermon, her Bible open, and asked, “Is this a Granville-Sharp construction?” and wanted to discuss the implications!) She was getting more understanding out of what was being preached because of her own practice studying God’s Word … from God’s Word! That is exciting stuff, people!

I tell you … there’s just no other way to go! Why are so many Bible teachers so intent on keeping people away from their Bibles? Why do we want to focus so exclusively on the “doing” that we completely miss the power behind the “doing”? The Word changes your heart and mind as you immerse yourself in it, and then … the “doing” becomes the fruit that emerges!

I got to go out on a Saturday and shop … amazing!!

This afternoon we left to drop Isaac off at his friend Cody’s house, which also gave Naomi and David the opportunity to use Cody’s trampoline (which Doug did tape for future viewing). Thank you, Langlois family.

I had an opportunity to chat with Cody’s Mom, too, which was great. Once we were done there, we went to Wal-Mart. Big deal for me, I actually managed to pick out clothes and shoes and try them on, while Doug took David and Naomi to buy the other items on the list. It was getting a “bit” unbearable by the time I hit the shoe aisle, but I was able to make it through the rest of the store, before the awful pain hit my back and legs. Naomi and I made it back to the van, extremely slowly, while Doug paid for the carriage full of items that we needed. I’ve needed several breaks since being home, but I’m still going, perhaps not as strong as earlier today, but still going, and that in itself is a huge blessing.

So he reached for the wrong can … he’ll be fine!

One day this past week, David wanted to make a fried egg for lunch. Which is not a problem; both he and Isaac have been making them for some time now. After this particular time, I had come out to the kitchen and found the can of air freshner close to the stove. So, I calmly asked David what he had sprayed the pan with to make his egg. He was puzzled, and then when I had shown him the can, he realized he grabbed the wrong one. It was so cute. I asked him how he was doing and if his egg tasted funny, but he didn’t seem phased at all by the Cinnamon Sticks “flavor” he had with his meal.

Naomi has been adding extra drama to her tears by covering her eyes when she cries to over emphasize her grief. One of her great lines of late has been, “It’s OK,” or “Don’t worry, I can do it, I’ll be fine,” no matter what the situation may be.

John Is Leaving

John turned 18 last Thursday. He celebrated this by launching a covert attempt to move out of the house. (Why it was covert is beyond me. He has every legal right to live where he wants; whether he was ready to do so, or whether this was in his best interests, is an entirely different question.) We did allow him to stay with his sister in Brockton for the past week, partly because we believed a break would do us all good.

Yesterday we phoned John at his sister’s house. We’ve talked to Felicia a number of times this week, but this is the first time we called to speak to John. We wanted to find out what sort of John would be returning today. We were hoping to see reflection and perhaps even repentance. Instead John told us he would be returning today to get the rest of his things. (This was one of the possibilities we were prepared for.)

When we asked where he was going, he wouldn’t tell us. He said he’d tell us eventually.

We told the kids. David cried for a long time. He is so loyal and so loving.

From last fall to late winter, John was all that we’d hoped he would become. His grades were quite good; he was clearly working hard in school, and had a part-time job in an accounting office. His attitude was excellent. He was helpful at home, and even managed to get along well with Isaac and David. For the first time in years, he behaved like one of the family, and it really felt that he was finally “home.” It was absolutely wonderful! I was so proud of him, and relished being able to brag about his achievements. We don’t know what precipitated the change, but all that disappeared, to our sorrow, by the early spring. Of late, especially the past few weeks, he has intentionally (as he admitted to our assistant pastor) been attempting to foment strife at home in the hope he could use that as an excuse to leave, not generating the level of discord he sought, but making life less-than-pleasant for all of us.

It appears John plans to live in Brockton, paying some rent, with someone he knows; perhaps a [biological] family member. He said “might have a job,” and that he intends to attend a vocational school in the fall.

I truly hope he succeeds.

Mind-Body Connection: Rheumatologist at Brigham …

Or, how much pain can you work through on a daily basis?

How much would your body allow you to do with pain on the scale that’s typically 7 to 10? I’m frustrated, because I’d prefer to be active, being able to minister and do for my family like I once did…. and no one seems to “get” that.


Yesterday we pulled off the usual logistics nightmare that involved a trip into Boston. Trish Dunn took the kids, except for John, who after a very disheartening and inexplicable episode, is spending a week in Brockton with his biological sister and her husband.

Dr. Anderson, a highly-recommended rheumatologist based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston (where Isaac was born), seemed to be highly skilled, and asked excellent interview questions. He is, unless we’ve missed some, the tenth doctor Nichelle has seen in the past two years.

Primarily, we forcused on the constant, very severe pain she is experiencing. He was able to rule out bone disease, tumors, diseases involving musculare weakness, nervous system disorders, and joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and synovitis. This left him with our old enemy diagnosis: Fibromyalgia. He explained that Nichelle had already tried most of the medications (and all of the types of medications) that normally help alleviate Fibromyalgia symptoms.

He suggested and later reiterated that he believed exercise would provide the most benefit. We twice explained very clearly that the recurrence of the debilitating symptoms occurred during a period of consistent and signficant daily exercise, and that the inability to do things like walk more than a few steps without intense pain makes exercise very difficult. He spoke of the “mind-body connection,” and how things like Yoga (although he does not “believe” in it per se) or meditation and other things that have to do with the mind-body connection can, in conjunction with exercise, be of benefit, indicating that one can change “how your body talks to you.”

He asked if she’d tried any of the various restrictive or eliminating diets, but we don’t know if he was thinking about the consideration of food allergies or sensitivities, or just throwing out possibilities. We discussed other alternative therapies: chiropracty (provided only very temporary relief), therapeutic massage (provided only very temporary relief), and accupuncture, which we are willing to try (there’s an opiate receptor model for how accupuncture actually works, which may make it ideal for treating pain), but we haven’t been able to find a practitioner covered by our insurance.

One of the more interesting things he asked Nichelle was, “If you were on the Western frontier 150 or more years ago, how would you handle this?” Later I thought of a really good answer: “She’d become a judge, and hang a whole lot of doctors.”

Overall, it was a long, discouraging day, especially due to the added concern about John.

This morning Nichelle seemed determined to fight through and determine just how much she could accomplish before completely succumbing to the pain. She even drove herself to the lab (5 minutes away) to get the latest bit of blood work done.

Nichelle made appointments today with the Pain Management Clinic at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, and with who we hope will be a good primary care physician. Both are not until the end of July or first week of August.

Dr. Hall (who ties with Dr. Rescigno for “Best Doctors We’ve Ever Had”) called back with her latest test results: Nichelle’s vitamin D level was good, and her PTH (parathyroid hormone) level was good, which means that the hyperparathyroidism was indeed caused by the vitamin D deficiency. The importance of vitamin D was largely overlooked until fairly recently, we learned from Dr. Hall, and vitamin D deficiency has turned out to be very common, especially in the Northeast.

We’ll have some other test results, such as for hemoglobin disorders and blood cortisol levels, next week.

Later today Nichelle goes in to Mass. General for two bone density tests. The illustrious Debi Costine is providing transportation (we’re bribing her with Middle Eastern food), and Cindy Lavoix and company are coming over to our house to watch the kids (or play with our game systems; I’m not sure which), which means I get to go to work.

Dr. Hall / MGH Visit 2

We had an excellent visit with the thorough Dr. Hall, although we are all still getting used to each others’ humor. To order the blood tests, Dr. Hall needed a diagnosis code, and was wondering what to put, so I suggested Munchausen.

Dr. Hall doesn’t believe Nichelle’s problems are primarily endocrinological, although there are endocrine issues, such as the previously diagnosed vitamin D deficiency and [probably] secondary hyperparathyroidism that she will continue to investigate. All of the thyroid tests came back fine. The adrenyls were good, and to our surprise, the various blood cell counts appeared to be normal as well.

She is going to do more hemoglobin-related tests, to look into various possible hemoglobin abnormalities that haven’t been tested yet. A blood-cortisol level test is also being done, apparently primarily because of Nichelle’s hair loss, although cortisol will affect edema as well. Last on the list of things to be tested now is bone density, both from the spine and hip. That will happen on Tuesday.

Another unlikely but possible problem is called cyclic edema. It’s difficult to treat, and it’s too early to diagnose, but it’s at least a consideration.

The next step is rheumatology. Dr. Hall referred Nichelle to a a senior endocrinologist, whom she described as “terriffic” and “very helpful,” at Brigham and Women’s. In an unexpected blessing, we got an appointment for Monday afternoon.

Running Multiple Versions of Firefox Simultaneously

(Based on information from this entry at the Dojo Foundation BLOG. This information is for Windows machines, specifically for concurrently running Firefox 1.0.7 and 1.5.0.x, but the same information applies to other versions of Ff as well. David Schontzler’s aforementioned post covers ‘Nix machines.)

As a Web developer on some fairly complex projects, it’s important to be able to run the current Firefox browser, as well as the previous release.

These instructions are based on having first installed Firefox 1.0.7.

Locate your current Firefox profile. Normally it will be in a folder under your Application Data folder, typically such as the following:

C:Documents and Settings{user_id}Application DataMozillaFirefox

Copy the entire Firefox directory someplace convenient, so you have a backup, for when you miss a step and something goes horribly wrong. (I know—this would never happen to me, either, but I was grateful I had a backup the two times I munged this setup and had to fix my initial Ff 1.0.7 installation.) You want to be able to fix your Firefox extensions in the event your running of Firefox 1.5 tries to upgrade them, which is a one-way process.

Then download and install Firefox 1.5.0.x, to a location other than the default location. (I recommend using a directory named C:Program FilesMozilla Firefox 1.5, as C:Program FilesMozilla Firefox is the default.) Do not launch Firefox 1.5 yet. (Be sure not to tell the install wizard to launch Firefox at the end.) If you do, you’ll need to quit the browser, and replace the now-upgraded profile folder with the one you backed up.

To allow you to clearly identify separate processes in the Task Manager process list, and to avoid accidentally running the Firefox 1.5 installation without the batch file that will preserve the Firefox 1.0.7 profile information, I recommend renaming the C:Program FilesMozilla Firefox 1.5firefox.exe to firefox15.exe. However, if you choose to perform this step, you’ll need to rename firefox.exe to firefox15.exe each time you perform an upgrade (such as from to of Firefox 1.5. (See “Future Upgrades,” below.)

Next, you’ll need to create a batch file to launch Firefox 1.5 and load a Firefox 1.5-specific profile:


start "Firefox" "C:Program FilesMozilla Firefox
1.5firefox15.exe" -P "Firefox 1.5"


The above batch file presumes that Firefox 1.5 is installed in the directory specified, that the executable is named firefox15.exe, and that a user profile named Firefox 1.5 will normally be used. If you’ve used values for any of these items that are different than the recommendations above, alter the portions marked in red accordingly.

The first time you launch Firefox 1.5, the Profile Manager will appear. Create a profile that matches the name used in your batch file.

If you want to change the icon shown (on the taskbar and the Firefox title bar), create a new icon and place it in C:Program FilesMozilla Firefox 1.5chromeiconsdefault with the name main-window.ico. You can find one that has a “1.5” overlaid atop the regular Firefox icon here. You can also find utilities to change the text in the title bar itself, such as the Titlebar Tweaks Firefox extension—which, ironically, has not yet been officially updated for Ff 1.5.0.x (as of June 7, 2006). You can install an updated, but unofficial, version from here.

I have also found that using significantly different themes (skins) for my different Firefox versions helps keep them straight at a glance.

And, of course, if you prefer to make Firefox 1.5 your default Ff version, do so, and modify the batch file to point to 1.0.7 instead.

Future Upgrades

The best thing to do when one is about to upgrade Firefox 1.5.x, is rename the firefox15.exe back to firefox.exe, run the ugprade, and then rename it back. If you don’t, you’ll find that your firefox15.exe is still around, but that the upgrader has added its own firefox.exe, requiring a delete-and-rename, as well as producing some interesting quirks, like Firefox not realizing it’s been upgraded because the .exe you’re running is the old one, while everything else is new.

Fluctuations and Patterns

Occasionally, Nichelle will have a day when she feels well. These are relatively rare. I did some backtracking on the BLOG, to try to evaluate my impressions of the pattern for the past month or so. Here’s what I found:

Great days:

  • Saturday, April 29
  • Wednesday, May 31

Partially good days (there may be a few others of these, but not many):

  • Friday, April 28
  • Thursday, May 11
  • Friday, May 12
  • Wednesday, May 24

Bad-to-really-bad days:

  • All the others, especially from May 13 until the present.

On the “great days,” Nichelle can walk, run, drive, cook, and live pain free. Such days tend to appear suddenly, and the good period lasts for no more than 36 hours, and generally just 8 to 12 hours. I think people get the impression (especially because they don’t see her except when she’s in this better state) that Nichelle’s overall health is improving. Sadly, the opposite is clearly the case.

Of late, Nichelle is spending most of her time in bed. (Previously, the couch was her base of operations.) She’s extremely uncomfortable and in significant pain just about all the time, with bouts of severe pain several times a day. The fluid shifts (swelling) in her face and elsewhere can be very pronounced. The Vicodin (just like what Dr. House takes) prescribed by the emergency department doctor—the only pain medication that has actually helped relieve the pain—is gone. Nichelle made 10 pills last 6 weeks, but doctors don’t like to prescribe Vicodin because it is highly addictive. Generally, Nichelle doesn’t like to take strong painkillers like that because they guarantee inactivity, whereas living through the pain offers a slight hope that it will diminish enough at some point for her to perform small tasks.

For the past 24 hours, Nichelle has been in and out of deep and sudden sleep periods. We see this pattern quite regularly. Also, for the past few weeks, she’s been getting a sudden and urgent feeling that she needs to get something to eat. If she doesn’t, she becomes suddenly “drained,” and experiences what she describes as being “beyond weak feeling.”

Although there have been a few more “great” days than we typically saw in the past few months, the overall picture is of slowly worsening symptoms.

So far we have no word on the test results from our Mass. General visit on May 12, which means they were either all normal or are being carefully evaluated. Our next appointment with Dr. Hall at Mass. General is on June 16.

Our church family has been helpful, and they are shifting into a higher gear this week, coordinating more cleaning help and more meal preparation.

The biggest task-related problem I’m having is keeping the house clean. I have a big work-from-home typesetting project I’m working on evenings/weekends, and that’s leaving even less time for mopping and decluttering. (Plus, Nichelle’s worse-than-previously health has given her fewer opportunities for short cleaning spells, or even supervising the kids in the same.)