Saturday, September 23, 2006

Christian Weddings

I suppose there is something salutary about weddings being sanctified by the word of God and prayer, even when the bride and groom aren't that concerned with being in church every week (or every month). But it is a wondrous thing when the bride and groom have been worshiping together weekly, and praying together, and each clinging firmly to God's Word.

I just want to say to Christopher and Erin, to Naomi and Nick, to Katie and Nathan (if any of them happen to see this) that it was pure joy to be at your weddings. It was a privilege to participate in the celebration and to pray for you and to hear God's Word proclaimed on the occasion of your weddings. It is also a comfort to know that you are salt and light to the earth, in this day when most weddings are not like yours.

Friday, September 22, 2006


My 11-yr-old doesn't get math. She has VCFS, and math non-comprehension goes with the territory. So I know that she won't do well with the subject. I know that she needs to be given time, lots of time. I know that we're still on 1st and 2nd grade math, and that's okay because it's entirely possible that 4th grade math is all we'll manage to complete by the time she's 18.

But sometimes it seems pointless even to try.

I thought we had a breakthrough last week. She finally seemed to understand what subtraction is, and how to do it. She breezed through a whole page of subtraction problems and got them right. The next day it didn't go so well. The next day it was worse. After one day without doing math, we had to start all over. But the next day, we had to start all over again. And today we had to redo the whole explanation of the lesson for every single problem. My frustration levels led me to take some breaks: "sorry, I gotta go stir the dinner" or "I really have to go jog now."

When I come in from jogging, my daughter meets me at the door and shoves her math worksheet in my face. "I got them done, Mom. Are they all right?" I quickly skim the answers. Most were problems over which we'd travailed prior to my escape in jogging shoes. But she had managed to accomplish a few more problems while I was jogging off some frustration. One problem, however seemed unusually clean and neat, with no scribbling for borrowing, no erasing wrong answers, no scratching out mistakes. My daughter points to that one and asks if it's alright. "Sure. The answer is correct."

But that didn't satisfy her. "Mom, I didn't figure that one out. I just remembered it and wrote down the answer. Is that okay???"

Remembered? She remembered 70-28=42??

"What do you mean, you 'remembered'?"

"I remembered it. I remembered the answer."

"But that problem wasn't on the page anywhere else."

"I know. But it was in that subtraction book you threw away last week because it was all finished. I had done that problem before."

"I gave you that problem before and you remembered the answer?"

"No, Mom. You didn't give me that problem before. It was in the workbook."

"Let me get this straight. Several weeks ago, you worked out the problem 70-28. And today you remembered that the answer is 42, and so you wanted to check whether it was okay to remember it instead of figuring out the answer again. Is that what you just said?"

"Yes. Is it okay to remember it?"

So I'm being stunned. This is a child who can't remember that 10-7 is 3 or that 8+6 is 14. But she remembered that 70-28=42. HOW do we get the basic math facts tossed into the memory vat alongside 70-28?

It's futile. It's useless. Why try? I think I should sit on the couch and watch funny movies and eat Snickers. (That would be my version of bonbons and soap operas.)

Actually, we didn't watch funny movies and eat Snickers. But I did dip into the therapeutic chocolate today. And I did have a jigger of Southern Comfort while I was setting the table for lunch. And we did open up the new word game I bought last week. And I did call off school with Maggie for the rest of the day, spending time with the boys instead.

As I fumed over 70-28=42 while finishing up the dinner prep, I thought that it's probably time to give up math. Better for her to learn to cook and clean and enjoy stories. (By the way, enjoying stories is something else the geneticist said my daughter wouldn't be able to do. Ha -- she was wrong on that one!) I was thinking about the futility of teaching arithmetic to a person who will never understand and may have to get through life without that ability. But then I thought about the futility of all of it -- teaching the other kids anything. Oh, I suppose they need to learn things for the sake of making them capable people who will be able to serve the neighbor. But today, it all seems ultimately futile. It's been about 17 years since I read Ecclesiastes -- maybe it's time to haul it out again.

Psalm 116 again

Pastor humored me in Bible class. He preached on the psalm of the week until I was done asking questions. I didn't get to the point that I understood everything he said, but at least he gave me plenty to ponder.

He said Psalm 116 is indeed a cohesive unit with the theme of redemption/salvation. He said it starts with prayer that arises from faith (vs 1-2). In the following verses, the psalmist talks about sin, death, and hell (vs 3-4), and we pray for deliverance from these enemies because God is righteous and merciful. We confess that He is merciful (vs 5) even "in the midst of death's dark vale." Returning to "rest" (vs 7) isn't returning to a comfortable situation, but returning to our Rest who is Christ Himself. There may be deliverance in temporal matters, but our deliverance is ultimately in heaven, the land of the living (vs 9).

The next two verses were part of what really confused me initially. But Pastor pointed out that we have a vocab-word for what we "speak" when we "believe" (vs 10) -- "confession." Not only do we confess our sin ("all men are liars," including ourselves, because the lies are central to what was happening in Genesis 3) but we also confess our trust in God and that He will bring us to the land of the living.

Pastor then went on to link the communion canticle (vs 12-14 and 19) to the statement in Apology IV about the highest worship of God being the desire to receive the gifts He gives. He also pointed out that our "vows" would be better thought of as things like "Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways? I do renounce them. Do you believe in God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth? I do believe...."

Verse 15 was one that confused me too -- not the content of the verse, but its connection to the rest of the psalm. But Pastor pointed out that death is when the bonds are finally completely loosed (vs 16) and when we are delivered (vs 4 and 8) into the land of the living (vs 9). And it is most precious to God when we are taken from this valley of sorrows to Himself in heaven.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hospital Update

Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, October 10.

St Matthew Epistle

I checked the LSB lectionary today. They botched the "sense lines" for today's epistle from Ephesians 4. They have "for equipping the saints for the work of ministry" instead of having those as two separate items in the series. Bummers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


1 Corinthians 10:13b
God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.

I so often hear this passage used to suggest that if we just try hard enough to find it, God will always provide a way to "not sin." So I very much appreciated what Pastor said in Bible class on August 13. Just thought I'd put it out there in case anybody else wanted to listen in.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Now, the word "tempted," you can think more broadly than "come on, do this sinful thing." Think of "testing" or "trial." It includes not only the temptations of the devil, but also if you get the diagnosis of cancer or if there was a tornado that ripped down your house. It's not only temptations from the devil, but also the testing and trial that comes through crises.

God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation or testing will also make an escape. God is faithful. To what? To His Word. To His promises to you. Like Paul says to Timothy, even when we are faithless, God is faithful for He cannot deny Himself. He is faithful to Himself and to His Word and to His promises to you. Therefore He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear or endure. Notice that it doesn't mean that the temptation or testing will be taken away. The point here is that you will be able to bear it or endure it -- without losing faith.

He will not allow you to be tempted or tested beyond what you are able to bear or endure, but with the temptation or testing or trial will also make the way of escape. Escape from what? Escape from sin, unbelief, despair. This is what we speak of in the sixth petition: God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. What is the cause of false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice? Unbelief! So escape is always, finally, faith. So that you do not fall into despair, shame, vice, and unbelief.

God is aware that we're tempted to despair. He will make an escape from sin and despair. What is the escape? It is in His Gospel, in His Word. A person who dies without faith is condemned. That's not because God was not faithful, but because the person rejected. He promises to be faithful to you according to the promises of His Word. He promises that when you are tested, He will provide the way of escape that you may be able to bear it and not fall into everlasting despair.

Feelings of despair and depression certainly do not mean that you have no faith. That's all the Old Adam is -- unbelief. If he's not getting what he wants, he may be quite despairing. There's always this paradox of "I believe, help Thou my unbelief." And He promises to help you.

Mrs X mentioned that private confession and absolution is a wonderful way of escape. Pastor agreed that it is. The reason we retain private absolution is for the sake of the absolution which strengthens faith which is the way of escape from sin and despair. We need to see it more as a normal thing instead of only for extraordinary sins like the physical act of murder. So if you'd just like to kill someone, but never would, confession is there for you.

Mrs Y agreed that private confession is a wonderful way of escape because it fortifies one with the Gospel.

Faith lives from a real word, an external word from outside the self. We tend to sit in our despair when what we need is the external word.

Hospital Update

The cardiologist called today. Results of the MRI showed pretty much what he expected. He was pleasantly surprised at how healthy and well-developed are the branches of the pulmonary artery. He was also concerned that the walls of the right ventricle were thickened more than he'd expected.

He said we don't need to meet with him prior to surgery. He said there's really not much to discuss because it's clear enough that it's time to get a new artery and that we can't allow her right ventricle to continue to be stressed. However, he did offer us the option of looking into a stent, to buy a little time, but that there's a very slim chance it would work.

So the surgeon's office will be calling Thursday or Friday to set a date.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kids' Chores

I think one of the hardest parts of momming is teaching the kids to do their chores, and to do them well, and to do them without reminding. We aren't all there yet. The kids are capable of the work, but they usually need prodding and reminding. It takes a whole lot of energy to make certain people keep up with what they're supposed to do.

What stinks is that, at the time I'm shortest of energy and pulled in a gazillion different ways, thus needing them to stick to their responsibilities in a "responsible" way, that is precisely the time I have no energy to enforce the behavior standards. And thus, when I'm busiest, it seems I have more cajoling to do to get them to do the chores, or end up taking the chores back onto myself for the sake of not having to prod and remind.

There must be a better way.

Oh. I know what it is. I could become a gooood Chriiiistian homeschool mommy, and have children who don't have sinful natures, but who always cheerfully serve their parents and siblings, and never fuss or disobey.

Naaaaah. Wouldn't work. Romans 6-7....

Psalm 116

I don't get this. It's the psalm of the week. Maybe after praying it repeatedly throughout the week, I might understand it by Saturday?

The way I'm reading this, verses 10-11 are really quite disjointed from the verses before and after. So is verse 15. And it doesn't seem connected in any way to vv 10-11. I KNOW though that it is one cohesive unit, and that it all goes together. I just don't see how.

It crossed my mind this morning that there might be something to "God has delivered my soul from death." Maybe there's something in the psalm that hits on how we are kept safe even though our bodies face destruction. The soul is delivered from the second death because of dying in baptism. And the body will be restored at the last day, but still must face temporal death to finish off that nasty Old Adam.

And maybe I need to figure out the connection between that and the canticle that we use prior to communion ("What shall I render to the Lord..."). Even if I could make sense of that part in my head, though, I still don't get the "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" right smack in the middle of the parts of the psalm we use for the canticle.

I hope Pastor is willing to talk about the psalm on Thursday morning at Bible class instead of jumping straight back into Leviticus.

"Your Faith Has Made You Well"

My daughter and her [Roman Catholic] boyfriend went to church up in the city on Sunday. His apartment is only 20 minutes from Peace, Sussex. Much better than where he lived last year, where the nearest Lutheran church was a 75-minute drive.

He hung around after church on Sunday to ask Pastor a question about something that bothered him in the Gospel reading. "Your faith has made you well." That makes it sound like my "trustingness" has made me well. That makes it sound like I did something for God to bless me. But that can't be! So what does this mean?

Wow! My first thought was "he's a kindred spirit -- a man after my own heart!" My second thought was "and you where raised in what church body?"

The Holy Spirit works faith when and where He pleases in those who hear the Gospel! And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not because of our own merits but because of the merits of Christ. (Maybe I should look up that quote and see that I've got it right. Ah, I'm too lazy. But you get the gist of it anyway.)

I have a feeling this guy is just gonna eat up catechesis with Bender. Class starts in two weeks. Yippee!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Theatre in the Great Wet Outdoors

Last Tuesday we went to Spring Green to see "Julius Caesar" at the absolute most bestest place in the whole world. I love APT. I love the drive over there (although it's too far) because it's just such a beautiful part of the state. I love the outdoor theatre and the hike up the hill. I love the actors.

Up until this year, I was crazy about the plays. They always seemed to have a very Lutheran undertone. At first, I just assumed it was something in Shakespeare. But as I've seen more Shakespeare, I realize that different companies play it different ways. And APT always seems to fit my worldview best, and fit my theology best, and delve me into lovelier theological musings than what I got from other companies. But now I'm a bit worried, because one of my favorite directors has become the manager of the whole place and isn't directing as much. I wonder what that will do to the way stories are presented?

We've had drought for years. This summer, God has given us rain. It's lovely. And for all the times I prayed for rain, I told myself that I wouldn't complain when it interfered with my plans. So I'm not complaining. Understand? But, boy oh boy, was it ever wet on Tuesday!

It drizzled and misted during the first act (100 minutes). We were in ponchos and damp. Actually, the weather fit the setting of the play quite well, even if we were a little wet. After intermission, there was a short first scene with drizzle, but then the sky opened up. They had to halt the performance and send us for cover. The rattle of the raindrops on our ponchos was so loud that the actors just could NOT get enough volume to be heard. They sent us down to the tent which is used for rained-out school matinees. It was okay, but it helped to close one's eyes and "see" the stage and the costumes and the movement that the actors would've been making had they still been on the real stage.

Afterwards we went into town to the General Store. I hate shopping. I hate shopping. Yes, I do -- I hate shopping. But I LOVE this store! When Gary and I had been over in Spring Green for our anniversary, I saw a board game that I wanted to get for school and for fun. I thought it was pricey. But when I tried to find it elsewhere, I discovered that it's not widely available. So I wanted to go back and buy it. Because of the cold rain and a little blue child, we decided said blue child needed something warm in her. We stopped at the restaurant in the General Store and bought soups and cocoa and stuff. While there, some of the actors stopped by after the performance, and we chatted with them a bit. Tracy (that'd be Brutus's wife, for those of you who attended the play)was saying that they've never had rain like this before, as long as she can remember in her 7 or 8 years in the company. Yes, there's been rain this bad, but it had always been for regular performances. And they'll call those off and give raincheck tickets. But for school matinees, they can't have people come back. It's too close to end of season, and the schools can't arrange to re-do the busses and the fieldtrip permission slips and all that jazz. So this play was one that made memories of how drenching and loud the rain was, because the actors couldn't stop the show and had to make it through (even though they got to move to a drier location).

For our 20th anniversary, my husband and I went to APT. One of the performances we were at also happened to be once of the worst rained-upon plays they've had. It even made APT's anniversary memory book. That night, they sent us for cover twice due to dangerous weather (not just wet). And by the end of the show, only about 100 patrons (less than 10% of the original audience) were left to see how Richard II turned out. When we were at APT this year for our 25th anniversary, it was the day there was flooding across the middle part of the state, and weather bad enough to knock out the power at home for the kids.

My husband had wished (once upon a time) that we could go on a cruise for our anniversary. All I can say is that I think the people who live near the ocean should thank us for going to APT instead of on a cruise. It prevented the hurricane that would surely have hit had we been on a boat that day.

And we can expect rain Friday next week. That's the day we have tickets to "Romeo and Juliet." Don't water your lawn on Thursday....


I know I'm overly busy when we blow off most of school for three days straight. (Oh, wait, there was that hour of philosophical discussion about trigonometry last night.) I canceled an all-day meeting tomorrow, and am looking for more things to cancel yet this month. The plan (!) was to spend today cleaning because we've ignored the floors and dust for so long. Of course, the dust doesn't bother me much. It's the lost items under the stacks of books and piles of papers, and the socks hiding behind the lego bucket. I mean, c'mon, when you've got to kill a fly, and you know there are two fly-swatters in that very same room, and you can't find either one of them, it's really time to straighten the house! We didn't read aloud today, we didn't fix meals today, and we didn't do the Monday errands today. I hope the catching-up work we did is enough that we can finish the rest of it by lunch tomorrow.

Every time I think of getting a paying job and how much we need for me to have a real income, I think of how a month like this is going. I think of how many days it takes for me to get ready to be gone from home one day, and how many days it takes to recuperate. A four-hour project is definitely an all-day project. One day away from home consumes three full days. What would happen if I had to be gone 10 hours a day, five days a week? Eeks!

Maybe we'll recuperate from the Busy Month with a nice posts-surgery convalescence for Mag, reading aloud, watching too much tv, and not running around like crazy people.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Matthew 4 and Psalm 49

Thursday morning for Matins, one of our psalms was 49. That same morning, as I was editing Bible stories from Luke, I ran across the story of the temptation of Jesus. And thus I noticed something cool about "Passion" that I hadn't noticed before. Wow -- the theologians who consulted on that movie sure were something! Always something new to find!

Pastor Koch had pointed out before I ever saw the movie that, in the Garden, Jesus was praying the psalms. I still don't know what psalms. The subtitles in the movie aren't in NKJV. Besides that, I just don't know the psalms as well as I wish I did. So I still don't know what psalms were being prayed in the Garden in the movie. But Thursday I realized where some of Satan's lines in that scene came from.

In Matthew 4, Satan quoted the Psalms (out of context!) to tempt Jesus. That's not unlike what he did to Eve, quoting the Lord, but not quite right. Likewise, in the movie, Satan's scheme in the Garden was to quote the psalms. In Psalm 49, Satan pulled out "none can redeem his brother" and "the redemption of their souls is costly." And he left it stand: "It's too hard. You can't do it." Satan never wants to quote the whole thing in context: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave."

Seek whom ye may to be your stay; none can redeem his brother. All helpers failed, this Man prevailed, the God-man and none other. Our Servant-Lord did help afford. We're justified for He hath died, the Guiltless for the guilty.