Sunday, July 24, 2016

Eye Contact

Some people listen better with their eyes closed, shutting out visual distractions to focus on what they hear. Some people are uncomfortable making eye contact because it feels too much like an invasion of their personal space.  Some people who do make eye contact feel compelled to break the eye contact while they're doing some momentary evaluation of what the speaker just said.  None of this is news-worthy, right?

Not long ago I had the opportunity to do some substitute teaching.  Small class size -- not at all like speaking to 200 people at a homeschool convention.  Much more intimate.  I couldn't believe how important it was to me for the students to be looking at me.  When they weren't looking at me, I wondered if they were bored.  I wondered if they'd gotten lost because I'd explained poorly or used a word they didn't know.  I wondered if maybe they were distracted in a good way, like making connections between what I said and something they had read earlier in the day.  I wondered if maybe I did still have their full mental attention, even as their eyes gazed unseeingly out the window.

The experience made me think I should take care to make eye contact nearly constantly with whoever's in front of me.  But I'm one of those people who can't listen critically and thoughtfully if I'm making eye contact.  However, now that I know how much it helps a speaker for her listeners to be watching and not just listening, I should try harder to keep my eyes focused too, at least some of the time.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Decision about Voting

I still don't know who I'll be voting for in November.  But I have decided one thing: I'm not telling anybody.  No matter what choice I make, either
a) I will be ashamed of it, or
b) other people will say that I should be ashamed of it.

I remember my mom telling me not long ago that it's so different now.  Everybody talks openly of their political views.  She said that, in the 60s, you didn't even tell your husband or your parents or your kids how you were voting.  It was private.

So that's my voting decision for this year's presidential election.  It's private.
So don't ask.
And don't make ANY assumptions.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Never Taken Away

Sermon on Wednesday night was about the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10).  Pastor mentioned that many American Christians are afraid these days.  What if our church is taken from us?  What if persecution or martyrdom comes to our country as it has come to other nations?  What if the Church has to hide?  Will we still have God's word in a decade, or even just a few years?

Jesus' promise to Mary and Martha was that Mary had chosen to listen to God's word and "that will not be taken away from her."  This is a promise to us too, who cherish God's word and beg that we not lose His word and Spirit.  How will the Lord preserve His word and ensure that it is not taken from us?  We don't know.  But the promise remains true.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Picking Berries

I approach the berry canes with my empty bowl.  A robin flees.  "Hey, these are MY berries.  Not yours.  Stay away, birdie." 

Twenty minutes of plucking.  Then a squirrel in a nearby tree starts making a racket.  Now, I don't speak fluent Squirrel, but I'm confident that the speech the squirrel was giving me was identical to the earlier speech I was giving the robin.

Tough noogies.  I planted.  I water.  I weed.  (Well, sometimes I weed.)  I nab Japanese beetles to toss to their deaths in my soap-water bucket.  Let the squirrel be angry that I'm harvesting the berries before him. 

Mmmmm, raspberries on my granola.  Mmmmm.

Monday, June 27, 2016

So Many Changes

This early part of summer has brought loads of changes to our family.

In addition to the some out-of-state trips and some local events that take a lot of work, as well as the usual housework and yardwork:

Daughter-in-law Olivia started working at church as part-time secretary for the summer and prepping for her first teaching job in fall. 

Son Andrew began a full-time job at the large teaching hospital in our area.  He's on the post-surgery floor.  He's far enough along in training that this weekend he began his overnight shifts.

Son Paul and daughter-in-law Mandy had baby Henry arrive.  Mandy is currently home with Henry instead of at work. 

Son-in-law Matt is finishing his fellowship at the large teaching hospital and is starting a new job in Illinois.  He and Rachel and Lizzy are moving there this week.

I finally retired-all-the-way from my job at the bank.  I am working on some publishing duties for CCA instead of just my copy-editing.

Maggie is on summer break from her volunteer-job at school, which re-configures our days significantly because I'm not chauffeuring her twice daily.

Gary still has his full-time day-job, but at church he is taking over the position of CCA administrator.
Out of twelve adults, half of us have had job changes this month.

In addition to that, three of our kids have moved out of apartments into houses in the last seven months, and another is looking to move soon. 

No wonder I feel like I can't keep up with what's what.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Saga of the Gottesdienst Plaque

When the plaque was originally made, there were 15 individual name plates.  The last name was added in 2010.  It took me a few years to make plans with the Gottes-editor to rearrange the plaque to fit in more names.  This spring I took it to the guy who makes trophies and plaques, the same guy who'd been doing a perfectly decent job of updating each year's name-plate.

Start: "Do you need this finished this week?"  Oh, no, I answered.  Two weeks is fine.  If you have other, more urgent jobs, that's okay too.  We don't really need it until the beginning of June.  "Okay, I'll have it for you in two weeks then."

Two weeks later -- no phone call.
Another two weeks, I called him to find out if I could pick up the plaque.  No.  It wasn't done.  "Another week," he said.
Two weeks later I called.  Not done.
A week later I called.  Not done.
A week later I called.  Not done, but I could fetch it next Monday.

Part 2:  I picked it up.  Hmmmmmm.

In place of individual names on the original tiny plaques, I had requested five plaques to go on the board, each plaque containing one column of eight names.  What I got back was three wide plaques, two columns on each one, with eight names per column. 

I had requested that the names be printed in lower-case letters with appropriate capitalization at the start of names.  What I got back was all-caps.

I had requested a font-size such that the capital letters be 1/4" tall.  What I got back was lettering 13/32" tall.  (Even though that's only a tiny amount of space, it's more than 60% taller than I requested.)

I had requested a font-style for the names that would match the rest of the lettering on the plaque.  What I got back was a vastly different type-style, as well as the names in bold.  It was as different as This is from This

Oh, and there was a name misspelled.

And one of the plaques was slightly askew.

Part 3:  Pastor took the plaque back and requested that it be fixed.  He didn't ask for everything to be put right.  He just asked for corrections to the misspelling, the font, and the lower-case letters.  And we still need it by June 1.  It wasn't ready by June 1.  It wasn't ready the next week either. 

We finally picked it up less than 48 hours before our symposium began.  Hmmmmm.

Part 4:  The font was smaller -- a nice size.  (Hooray!)  But now there were eleven names per column.  This means the plaques were less than one-third full; it looked very empty.  And it means there's currently room for 45 more years of Sabre bearers' names.  That's a bit excessive at this point.

The previously misspelled name was corrected.  (Hooray!)  But a date was changed from 2012 to 1012.  And "gallantry" was spelled with an S.  And another word was misspelled. 

And the font was still in the unmatched style, and still in bold.

When I called the shop owner, he told me I could bring it back and he would fix it for me by the next day.  We had plenty to do in preparation for symposium and didn't want to take time to run the extra errands.  Besides, based on previous promises of "This is when I'll have it ready," I was skeptical as to whether the repairs would be done.  I told him I would bring it back the next week. 

He questioned the misspellings.  He told me he proofread it three times after I complained about the errors, but he could find no misspellings. 

Part 5:  When I returned the plaques, I told him I wanted the font for the names to match the font on the rest of the plaque.  We weren't going to demand that, but as long as he had to remake the plaque because of the spelling error, we might as well make the font right.  "But then it won't be in bold."  Right!!  I told him we never wanted it in bold.  We had asked for the fonts to match.  He insisted that no one had asked for that.  I did when I first came in.  And it was written down in the instructions I gave him.  Pastor did.  And Pastor saw him jot down a note in response to the oral instructions. 

Then he told me, "If I do this the way you want, it's going to be hard to read.  It won't be bold anymore.  I don't want you looking at it and being unhappy with it, because I am NOT going to change this for you again for free." 

Funny, I never thought that
his fixing his own errors
was the same as
his making a new sign for me for free.

Part 6:  He did the work right away.  It was ready when I arrived to pick it up.  The corrections were made.  (Hooray!)  And the matching, unbolded font looks great.  As I left, he wished me a good summer ... because he didn't want to see me back with any more complaints.  I suppose that was intended to be good-natured and funny.  But it hit my ears as though it were blame, and that he was a pretty good guy for humoring us in our pickiness.

Next year there will be yet another name chosen to bear the Sabre of Boldness.  At that point, I will take the plaque to a different engraver.  I want to start fresh and remake it according to the original plan in March. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

That's Not Permanent

I thought shingles were supposed to last about 15-20 years.  The guys who install metal "permanent" roofs warrant them for 50 years.  That's only two or three times as long as plain old boring shingles.  And you have to assume that the company will still be there in 30 or 40 years if you need something fixed.

When I was a kid, people painted their houses every 15-20 years.  Yes, we had evil lead in our paint.  But it lasted.  I've been hearing a company advertise their "coating" for a home that looks like paint but is permanent.  They promise it will last 25 years.  Twenty-five years doesn't sound very permanent to me.

Why is this short period called "permanent"?

Is it because we have such a mobile society that nobody stays put for 25 years? 
Is it because we like to tinker and update and go for a new look?
Is it because the quality of materials and workmanship has degraded so much that upkeep has become a constant battle, and now we think 25 years is relatively permanent?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Getting Cleansed

Jesus went around getting unclean.  He touched lepers when He healed them.  He touched dead people when He raised them. 

Remember all those rituals in the Old Testament for cleansing and purification?  Remember when Jesus told the ten lepers to go show themselves to the priests?  But Jesus didn't do that Himself.  When He got Himself unclean, He didn't scurry off to the priests and offer the sacrifices to get Himself clean again.

His cleansing was at the cross.
He offered the sacrifices for purification when He sacrificed Himself and shed His blood to remedy all our uncleanness.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Smiling because he's out of the carseat.

Mermaid and her baby.


Tim and Gary

Zoe, Eric, and Alia

Maggie and Olivia
Sitting by the lake.


Andrew and Olivia

Suppertime when there's not enough table-space.

Zoe, Katie, and Matthias


Most of the kids.  In the "office."

Matthias, Philip, Zoe.

Rocks are fun.

Watching the hummingbirds and orioles.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Baby Henry

Rest Day

Today is a day of doing nothing.

Usually I'm not good at that.  Today we're all wiped out enough that we're managing loads of Nothing.

Two weeks ago we enjoyed a week-long family reunion.  It's a lot of work to go away.  But we love seeing the extended family.  And the resort we use is simple, relatively inexpensive, and low-key.  But it's clean, on a lake, with a pool, and awesome hosts/owners.  Weather was perfect.

After re-entry to Real Life and recuperating from our rest [??], we headed off the next weekend to meet baby Henry and rejoice in his baptism-day.  Oh, right, it was nice to see my son and daughter-in-law too.

In the days before and after baptism-weekend, I packed up supplies for the CCA symposium and the CCA sales booth.  (Oh, man, my muscles aren't what they used to be.  I am weak and pokey.  But, hey, it was possible to do the work.)

The last few days involved early mornings and late nights and physical labor.  And lots of time on my feet.  And chances to visit with friends ... though never enough time for all the people I want to see.  The topic for symposium was about keeping our children in the faith, and comfort for us when our loved ones stray.  It was helpful and encouraging.

But today is nothing.  Sudokus.  Lightweight movies.  Sitting around.  I probably should mop and do laundry and start some pickles.  Nothing big.  Just a little catching up.  But if I don't do it, I will still be satisfied.  There are three more big events coming up in the next few weeks, so a day of sloth is probably healthful right now.