Monday, June 29, 2015


Most people live together before they're married.  Friends will be aghast if a couple decides to marry without living together first.  "What's the matter with you?!  You should try it before you make the commitment!"  A fuddy-duddy asks, "So then what's the point of marriage?"  Finally Gary noticed that when his co-workers get married, it's often a signal that they're ready to have a baby.  There's often a sense that they should marry before they begin raising a family.

So, what is marriage anyway?

No, I don't mean the marriage that everybody knew when I was a little girl.  I don't mean the marriage that we saw in the Bible or in history books or in literature.  I mean, what is marriage now, today, in America, after the Supreme Court ruling on "marriage equality"?

Recently, Americans see marriage as having to do with romance and companionship.  For much of history, through most cultures, marriage has been (sociologically) more about children having a stable home with Mom and Dad.  From a theological viewpoint, marriage reflected the image of God (Gen 1).

So now we have a legal status of marriage which provides financial and legal and social benefits.  This marriage is currently available to any two people. 

Christians who marry at the courthouse will probably still desire to have their union sanctified by the word of God and prayer.  This is no different from having the pastor minister to a family when a baby is born, or when Grandma dies, or when Junior goes off to the military.  When big events occur in life, we pray and we listen to God's word and we sing hymns and we seek the Lord's blessing.  That will continue for Christians who marry, even if they can no longer marry in the church.

The thing I've been wondering is:
Is there a reason Christian couples should seek a legal-marriage in addition to ... uh ... well ... I don't know what to call it.  Can they enter into matrimony without the legal contract that is offered by the State?  Obviously, the State doesn't mind people living together apart from legal-marriage.  It's the Church that has been objecting to people living together without legal-marriage, calling people to repentance for their adultery.  But now that the definition of marriage is officially changed, will it still matter?  Can there be marriage-before-God (and before family and society) without having the marriage legally sanctioned?  Maybe not.  Maybe so. I don't know.

My friend Cheryl pointed out an article by Kate Ashford that listed some advantages of being legally married instead of merely being in a domestic partnership. POA's and wills can arrange for partners to have many benefits that normally come to legally-married folks.  But that can't cover everything:
~ No gift taxes on large monetary gifts to a spouse.
~ Upon death, an IRA can be rolled over to the spouse.
~ Spouses can receive survivor benefits from pensions or SocSec.
Also, the wife can change her name via marriage without petitioning the court for a name change.

So even if there are no theological reasons to be married by an agent of the State (although there may be!  I'm still wondering about this ...) there are still some practical reasons to go to the courthouse for a wedding license.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Not Trendy

This evening I noticed something beautiful in the sky.  Venus and Jupiter are very close together.  The computer tells me that this is the closest the two planets will be over the space of a few decades.  The astronomers are saying that this series of three conjunctions (over the space of 14 months) is quite similar to what the star of Bethlehem may have been.

When Maggie and I were first looking up "Sky and Telescope" to see what they said about this lovely sight, I started singing, "... and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets ..."  Poor Maggie.  "WHAT are you singing, Mom?!"  So I belted it out: "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius ..."  Yeah.  Like I said -- poor Maggie.

Singing the song reminded me.  Once upon a time, in grade school, I won some contest at the Y.  The prize was a 45 of my choice.  (For you youngsters, a "45" is a record.  The kind that got played on a old-fashioned turn-table.  The little ones, with one song on each side.  It would be comparable to your winning a $3 iTune giftcard.)  They asked all three winners for what songs they'd like.  The other two girls immediately came up with song titles.  At that point, I didn't listen to pop music yet.  So I chose "Age of Aquarius."  It was something I knew.  The adults didn't know what to do: "That's old.  I don't think that's available any more.  Is it still on the charts?  Can you tell us a second choice?  I don't think we'll be able to find that song."

When my hair was initially cut short, here not too long ago, several people complimented me with how "trendy" I looked.  I was offended.  I didn't respond in a nasty way, but yes, that kind of praise bothered me.  If they liked my hair and I didn't, I could accept their compliment.  If they said my haircut suited me, I could disagree but appreciate their well-intended words.  But trendy?  Yuck.  I don't like trendy.  I don't want to be trendy.

"The Age of Aquarius."  I was already out-of-sync and decidedly behind-the-times when I was just a little kid.

Definitely untrendy.
And proud of it.  Darn tootin'.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Brain Games

We are watching a psychology show on Netflix right now.  Brain Games explores the way the brain works, and how it can play tricks on us.  There are plenty of optical illusions and interactive activities.  (After several episodes my curiosity got the better of me -- I did peak once when they said to close your eyes and listen.  The sign on the screen?  "We told you to close your eyes.")

One episode was quite interesting in that it began with the premise that --from birth-- men and women are different.  They think differently.  They have different brains with different strengths and weaknesses.  This is inbred in our cells and DNA.  I was amazed that such a thing would be stated so bluntly a mere 3 years ago.  (We've made quite the rapid slide into nonsense here the last year or so, eh?)

Another interesting episode was how people tend to be overconfident.  We don't like to think we don't know.  We don't like to accept that we make mistakes.  We justify ourselves.  There are spiritual and theological ramifications to this psychological fact.  (Or maybe flip it around: they showed the psychological ramifications of what is actually a spiritual fact.)  It makes me even more put off by [ahem] confidence.

The episode on paying attention helped me understand some situations I face at work ... and why it's so easy to overload a mind (especially after a brain injury that compromised my thinking skills).

In many ways, I apparently think more like a man than a woman: my color perception, my spatial skills, my verbal skills.  Oh well.

The episode on memory showed me something else that I suspected.  My memory has really gone downhill.  [My apologies, Gary.  But it has.]

The oddball thing of this whole series?  My brain is more like Maggie's now than it used to be; we're finding quite often that we both come up with the same answer in the interactive games.  But we keep answering the "wrong" answer (that is, the unexpected answer, given by a small minority of their subjects).  We're wondering if we have trained our brains this way.  If so, I think it's a good thing.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Lovely, amazing, beautiful wedding yesterday.  We've known the groom since he was 1, and the bride since she was about 4-5.  So good to go to a wedding where they are firmly committed to Christ's being the center of their marriage.

Cherry pie in the oven baking.  The cherry tree is loaded with beautiful fruit.  I don't know if it was that the weather was just right this year, or if the tree's flourishing was due to my lack of mangling pruning the last two springs.

Gary is still doing ALL the mowing.  He does not permit me to help.  I am spoiled.  Also, Maggie and Katie seem to be accomplishing any housecleaning that happens around here.

I gave up on the garden.  I planted some lettuce and almost none of it came up.  I've harvested almost none of the strawberries -- Gary, Maggie, Katie, and the kids have done whatever picking has happened.  Not all the raspberries have been pruned and weeded.  Grape-vine shoots and tendrils look nice but need to be tied to their supports.  I guess we'll be buying tomatoes from the farmers' markets this year.  The garden spot is covered with dead leaves, a little hay, and the kitchen scraps for composting.  This is the seventh year of the garden.  We'll call it our "fallow year" and just pretend like we planned it this way all along.  Yup.  Sure.  Absolutely.

This year's catechetical symposium had a smaller attendance than usual.  But the topic was good. 

Took a trip down to my hometown to start helping with cleaning out my mom's house.  Between the travel, the late nights, and the simple physical work of going through drawers and closets and carrying things and walking back and forth, it took a week and a half of recuperating before I could do anything more than lie around (when I wasn't at work).  I was even too tired to read.  My appetite went away, and I still haven't cooked a real meal since before that trip.  I fear that I'm not going to have the strength to do what I should in this project.

What is it with all the rashes this past year?  It seems like, if somebody merely looks at me cross-eyed, I'll develop another rash.  Well, no, it's not people looking at me; it's plants getting anywhere near me. Thus the disincentive to be putzing in the garden very often.

I heard two different conversations at the wedding yesterday from young unmarried men.  You know what they each want in a wife?  Number 1 requirement: a woman.  What a different world it is today that this would even be mentioned in a joking way. 

One of the gals at work just had her baby, and the two college-aged gals are doing temporary internships (thus limiting their hours available for work).  I hope my hours get shuffled a bit for the next few weeks so that I can fill in holes instead of working my usual hours.  Thing is, I'm still under doctor's limitations on how many hours per week I may work -- that will keep me from overdoing.

I've got some editing to do, so all the rest of my to-do list for church tasks is getting ignored.

I tried going back to Curves to "exercise" -- with a very slow and easy trial of getting back to some physical activity.  That was right before we went on the trip to Illinois, so I haven't been about to go back to Curves again.

It happened again today: I decided that no matter what went undone, I had to call Mom because it's been so long since I talked to her.  And then I realized ... no, I wouldn't be calling Mom.  I wonder how long it will take before I quit forgetting.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Satan Doesn't Care

Best line from last week's sermon at the church we were visiting:

Satan doesn't care so much whether you sin,
but where you turn when you do.

Monday, June 01, 2015


My brain changed. 

Gary and I have noticed that, since my brain injury, I've been less emotional.  I don't cry anymore.  Well, let's say I don't blubber anymore. There have been occasional times where a tear or two might be shed.  This is weird, although not exactly unwelcome.

Last night he showed me a website with optical illusions.  For one trick, you stare at a picture's negative for 15 seconds, and then the positive image appears next to it.  It didn't work for me.  I did try a colored one this morning -- one that's in our set of old-fashioned encyclopedias (book form instead of Wiki).  That illusion worked, but not as well as it used to.

There was another illusion that Gary thought was mega-cool.  He showed it to me.  It was nifty and sparkly and kind of freaked you out how it worked.  But after a few seconds, there was a sharp, stabbing pain in my brain. 

Last year I could not watch the fireworks in summer.  After the first one went off, I had to get away immediately; the pain was intense and I thought my head would explode.  I don't know how much healing I've had and what this summer's firework displays will do to my brain.

Maggie and I decided my "Test of Tears" will be when I watch Something the Lord Made.  If I can watch that with only a few tears, we will have proof positive that my aneurysm blow-up was also a lobotomy.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Notes from Bible Class

"The glory of God's undying love" didn't die ... even when He did. 

John 3:6  -- "That which is born of the flesh is flesh.  That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
That's like in Genesis 1: "after its own kind."

John 3:11 -- Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel.  Jesus thought he obviously should've known the things Jesus was talking about -- known them from the Old Testament scriptures.  Jesus says, "We speak what We know and testify what We have seen."  That's like in Luke 24 where Jesus shows the disciples how the entire Old Testament is all about Him and His atoning work.  Nicodemus should've known the first promise of salvation (Gen 3:15), He should've known the story about the bronze serpent (Num 21).  He should've known about the "Son of Man" (in Daniel).  He should've known about all those water stories (Gen 8, Ex 14, Josh 3, Jonah, et al) and also how washing was used in the tabernacle worship.  He should've known about the Spirit's blowing where He wills (Gen 1, Psalms, 1 Kings 19, et al).  But when Nicodemus didn't know these things that he should've known, what does Jesus do?  He talks about the Son of God on the cross, and that God wants to save, not to condemn.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015

How to Respond to Eastern Religions -- finished Jan 7
Crunchy Cons, by Dreher -- finished Jan 13

Holy Housewifery -- finished Jan 17
Wild Swans, by Chang  -- finished Feb 25
Light in the Dark Belt: Story of Rosa Young -- March 7
Heidelberg Disputation -- finished April 2 
On Being a Theologian of the Cross, by Forde -- April 13
Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules ... to Break-- May 1
Let's Roll, by Beamer-- finished May 4
Christ for Us, by Preus

Pioneer Girl (biography of Laura)
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,  by Aron

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, by Karon -- March 30
Beyond the Mists, by Benchley
Cutting for Stone, by Verghese

~ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe -- May 17
~ Prince Caspian
~ Dawn Treader 
~ Silver Chair
~ Horse and His Boy -- finished April 16 [audio]
~ Magician's Nephew -- finished May 12 [audio] 

~ Last Battle
Harry Potter
Hammer of God

With Maggie:
Anne of Ingleside -- finished Jan 16
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

Penderwicks -- finished Feb 24
Carry On, Mr Bowditch
On to Oregon
Across Five Aprils

Swallows and Amazon series
or Little House series (again)
or Little Britches series
or Five Little Peppers

Additional Suggestions from Friends:
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Hardcore Poor, by Sangree
Joel Salatin's 2007 book about food practices in the USA
Simply Classical
On Our Way Rejoicing, by Trobisch
Richest Man in Babylon
Finding Kansas
Our Island Story
Luther the Reformer, by James Kittelson
The Right to Be Wrong, by Seamus Hasson
How to Bake Pi, by Cheng (SCI 510.1)
Bitter is the New Black (817.6 LAN)

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

House of Living Stones
Bride Most Begrudging
A Star for Mrs Blake
Caleb's Crossing

Friday, May 29, 2015

Catechism Olympics

The last day of school at church is a short day.  Nearly all of it is spent with chapel, Catechism Olympics, and closing prayer. 

I can't figure out why, but Catechism Olympics is FUN.  I haven't been able to attend for quite a while, due to my work schedule.  But this year I could go.  Grown-ups cannot participate, but it's fun in the same way as observing a spelling bee or the geography bee. 

First game: kids were divided into groups of three.  It was pretty much just like their weekly term quizzes, but lots of terms, and from the Old Testament stories for the whole school-year. 

Second game: Divided into girls versus boys.  This seemed unfair to me, as it was 3 against 11.  I was going to bolster the girl-side (even if I am a grown-up).  Pastor would not allow it.  The second game turned out to be "Name That Tune" with the learn-by-heart hymns from this past school year.  No wonder I was kicked out.  (I could've "named that tune in zero notes" for over half the songs.)  But the girls did well.  They didn't win, but it was close.

Third game: Another contest with terms, this time from Christmas stories and Easter stories.  Miss a question -- sit down.  Last one standing won.  Candy bars for prizes.

Fourth game: Another elimination game.  This time with reciting the catechism.

Finally, a hymn sing.  Each kid got to pick something from the hymnal and we all joined in singing.

NICE morning. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Greater Joy

My favorite sympathy card arrived today.  I had the biggest, silliest grin on my face as I read it.  There was nothing silly about the card, but the joy I found in that card was so overwhelming that I couldn't help but laugh with delight.  And pretty soon, as I continued to think on it while washing dishes, my eyes began to tear up. 

In his third epistle John says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth."

My goddaughter quoted a hymn for me.  Only four stanzas because that's all that fit on the back of the card.  "All Christians Who Have Been Baptized ...."  Oh my goodness!  What better hymn when a person faces death -- her own or the death of a loved one? And there were so many awesome bits of her note.

But the best part of all?  The line on the card said, "May friends comfort you, faith uphold you, and loving memories heal your heart."  She crossed out "loving memories" and wrote in "Jesus."

[Oh, shoot.  Now I'm starting to get misty-eyed again.]

She said she didn't like the part about loving memories bringing healing.  So she adjusted the wording. 

John's right.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.

So What Does "Forgiveness" Mean

"Forgive the shooter."  Those were the final words of the man who was shot in a murder spree a couple of weeks ago. 

Charlie Sykes (one of our favorite talk-radio guys in our area) didn't understand.  "How could he say that?  I couldn't do it.  Does that make me a bad Christian?  What does it mean to 'forgive'?!"

"Peter from Sussex" called in with a very good answer.  He got to say a lot.  (The set-up and the conversation with Pastor went from about the 5-min mark to about 13-minutes.)  Then Charlie continued the topic with other callers, as he struggled to understand forgiveness.  Now Charlie should come to Didache.