Saturday, December 23, 2006

Welcome to the Family?

Shame on me.... telling funny, embarrassing tales on my nephew.

A bunch of my Illinois family was here yesterday and today, celebrating Christmas and visiting. After supper was all cleaned up, Nathan (my good buddy and now also my son-in-law) and I went to town to do my paper route. While we were gone, one of the boys was given the job of passing out gift-envelopes from Grandpa and Grandma. When we got home, my nephew comes up to me and Nathan and hands us our envelopes.

Josh says to Nathan, "I'm not sure why you get one of these."

Nathan was sitting near Matt (the boyfriend of my other daughter) and noticed that Matt had an envelope from my folks too. So Nathan pointed this out to Joshua.

Joshua responded, "Well, HE's Rachel's boyfriend."

Nathan pointed out that he was Katie's husband.

"Yeah. So?"

Apparently, Matt's popularity with the little kids counts for more than wedding rings and a marriage license and God's pronouncement. LOL! My mom says that we're stuck with Matt now, because the cousin's have no intention of letting him go. Matt is as popular with the kids as is my cousin Eric -- and that is no small feat.

Well, I guess I'm about as popular with the kids as Nathan is. Maybe that's why he and I are such good friends. :-)

Friday, December 22, 2006


The rejoicing should be commencing. The days are now getting longer, or so the scientists tell us. This normally brings much relief to the females of this family. (And hence, it brings a secondary form of relief to the males of this family. Let the reader understand.) Yes, it's true, as Dave says, that winter's cold has barely begun. But the sun is headed north again!

If there is still a sun.

It's been raining and dark here for the last 42 hours. I guess we have to take it on faith that there's still a sun up there, behind the clouds, on the other side of the constant rain. (Not that I'm complaining about rain! Oh no! There's been too much drought for too long to be complaining of rain! Is it too much to ask, though, to have rain AND sunshine at the same time? Oh. Yeah. I guess it is.... But I digress.)

Maggie, having been sprung from confinement, hit up the library yesterday. She brought home a video of The Silver Chair. There's the scene where the witch is trying to convince Rillian and the kids that there is no sun, that it's just a figment of their imagination. Kinda funny thing to be watching on the shortest day of the year, especially when the brightest part of the whole day was about as luminescent as 4:30 a.m. in June.

But in spite of the darkness, we have light. We have the light that makes me happy in a shallow sort of way: too many natural light light-bulbs wasting electricity. And we have the Light that brings real and non-shallow joy. For Advent, I've been trying to teach my minions children the Phos Hilaron. "Joyous light of glory of the immortal Father; heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ. We have come to the setting of the sun, and we look to the evening light. We sing to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever. O Son of God, o Giver of Life: the universe proclaims Your glory." The canticle goes so well with lighting Advent candles in the evening. And it just thrills the heart to think of how vividly the Easter Vigil's canticles will hit the ear after having made a habit of singing the Phos Hilaron at sundown.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You Know You're _____ When...

You know you're old when the popular "retro toys" of the Christmas season are things that were brand new (or not even available yet) when you were already grown up.

You know you're a country girl when the kids say "P.U. I smell something that stinks; it must be pigs," and you say, "No! That's cows, not pigs! Cows don't stink. Can't you tell the difference?!?"

You know you're getting grinchy when you wonder if you'll bother to take the time to decorate for Christmas ten years hence.

You know you're giving up too much privacy online when your own children read your blog and thus know which packages under the tree hold underwear.

You know you're forgetful when you had a lot more of these items that you'd planned to write, but you can't remember them by the time you get your hands on the computer.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hospital Update - 14

The x-rays this morning were much better. Last week's x-rays showed two of the three lobes of Maggie's left lung collapsed, and the top lobe starting to go. This week, the top two lobes look good, and only the bottom lobe is still collapsed. This has resulted in much less shoulder pain for Maggie, as well an increase in her appetite. She's still not eating much, but she's eating a whole lot more than the nothing she was nibbling at last week.

The doctor says she's allowed to go to Sunday School and sing in the Christmas program. He said singing would be good for her, and that we should continue the coughing and the balloon-blowing and the percussing on her chest. He assured her that this problem wouldn't cause her to be hospitalized on Christmas. But he stressed that she still has a lot of work to do to inflate that bottom lobe of the lung. And I think her motivation to work hard on her breathing exercises just flew out the window. That means I'm really going to have to be the mean naggy mommy who oversees every moment of the lung exercises.

We go back in two weeks. On Tuesday we see the ENT who did her palate surgery. On Thursday we do more x-rays to check out the progress on her lung.

DVDs at Borders

What a deal!
Usually the best coupon or sale-price you can get on DVDs at Borders is 20% off. Even the employees can't get more than that on their best Employee Appreciation Days. But right now, for Tuesday and Wednesday only, Borders is offering a coupon that permits 40% off DVD boxed sets. One coupon per customer per day. There are some things we've wanted but didn't want to pay for. Now, at 40% off, it puts those items on the wish-list into reach.

Hoover Savvy

I bought a Hoover Savvy vacuum cleaner in April. It has "wind tunnel technology." It is in for repairs under warranty for the FOURTH time right now. Each time has been over a week. This time it will be at least two weeks before I can pick it up. Last time it was in for repairs, I finally gave up and bought a Panasonic. The Panasonic is used when the Hoover is being repaired and will be there in April when the warranty runs out on the Hoover. I can keep using the Hoover (if and when it's operable) for 5 more months. But I am not going to pay for repairs every six weeks once my warranty runs out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Long Lines

No, not at the grocery store or Best Buy. Not long lines turning left out of the mall's parking lot.

A long line for the confessional. This evening, I had to wait more than half an hour for my turn to go to private confession. That's happened before, but usually it's prior to a Lenten service. Such lines are not common in LCMS churches. It is such an incredible blessing to have to wait in line, though, knowing that your brothers and sisters value this Word of Absolution as dearly as you do yourself!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Collapsed Lung

The doctor suggested on Thursday that Maggie blow up balloons. Those little exercise machines are boring to use. Coughing (as a lung exercise) isn't any more fun. But balloons ... ah! The doctor said blowing up balloons always used to be recommended for helping the lungs after surgery. But nowadays balloons are dangerous and evil; they aren't allowed in the hospital because it would be a choking hazard. So we bought 12 dozen balloons on the way home from the hospital on Thursday.

Maggie has to blow up each balloon over and over, until it's too easy to expand, 3-5 times per balloon. I just figured the balloons would get thrown away after that, but nooooooo. Someone decided these balloons needed to be tied up and saved for playing with. When the living room floor had been entirely taken over by balloons, the plan morphed. Balloons were conjoined into tetrahedrons, pyramids, and cubes. Eventually all balloon configurations became cubic, simply because more could be jammed into a smaller space that way. But eventually the living room floor was being obscured by Balloon Cubic-Art. Someone else came up with a new notion: stacking them. The squareness of the configurations allowed the sections to interlock and stack. So we then had towers of red and yellow balloons, like stalagmites growing out of the carpet. Someone posited that we forego the Christmas tree this year, and simply decorate a balloon-tower or two. Youngest child recognized that the ornament hooks might possibly "do in" a balloon tower prior to Epiphany. So we knuckled under to the power of tradition and bought a tree anyhow.

Unfortunately, by this time of the season, there's not a lot of choice left at the cut-your-own farms. Andrew and I chose a tree that had a decent shape and was as short as we wanted. Boy, it was prickly! I'm used to the firs I had been growing on the north side of the property. But my homegrown firs have all been used up for Christmases past, and now I have to pay someone else for a tree. This one was a spruce. It was so pokey and sharp that we used leather work gloves while stringing the lights.

One of the kids asked on Friday night what we were going to do with ALL these balloons. I had said that I never intended for them to be tied, but rather that they just be thrown away flat. So we'd probably just get a pin and bust them when we were sick of having balloons everywhere. After finishing up altar-guild duty at church today, I arrived home to find children thowing balloon configurations at the tree. The needles are so sharp that they instantly pop the balloons. And it's really cool to throw six balloons at the tree, all tied together, and hear the pop-pop-popping as the branches snag those balloons. The kids say it sounds like a machine gun. If we keep throwing balloons at the tree and leaving broken bits of red latex on the tree, maybe we won't have to hang the traditional ornaments....

This stunt could end up in family legend with the delightfully noisy time the kids got to ride bikes over yards and yards of big fat bubble-wrap.

Leviticus 26

We've been going through Leviticus all year for Thursday morning Bible study. Pastor is just tickled with Kleinig's commentary on the book. One of the things Pastor has been harping on repeatedly is how the "law" is not just a moral code, but is mostly about the sacrificial system and the ordering of the worship in the tabernacle. So when Jesus "fulfills the law," it's not just that He was a good boy, but that everything in the Torah is about Him -- the altar, the incense, the priest's garments, the blood, the mercyseat, the veil, the lampstand, the lambs, the doves -- everything points to Him and His atonement for sin.

The moral code is important too. But Pastor has repeatedly made the point that the "law" (as in, the Torah) spends so much more time on how sin is atoned for than it spends on how to "be good."

Pastor took us to Daniel 9 in connection with Lev 26. At Sinai, God was telling His people to be faithful. If they weren't faithful, thus-and-so is what would happen to them. And it was exactly what happened to them -- both their sin and the consequences of it. It sounds almost like you're reading a history of Israel in the past tense. So 1000 years later, Daniel is sitting in Babylon, reading his Bible and meditating upon it, and sees what God spoke through Moses way back when. So Daniel repents and fasts, and he prays in accord with the words of Leviticus.

Daniel prays: "Cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate" which reminds one of the phraseology of Psalm 80. Then he goes on, reminding Yahweh of the promises of Lev 26:40ff. "O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act!" (I just love that triple "O Lord." You'd almost be tempted to think that the OT Christians believed in the Trinity or something....)

And then Pastor took us to 2 Corinthians 12, about how knowing our weakness is good for us, and how His forgiving grace is the only strength we need. In Lev 26, we read about the chastening that God would provide when the people became stiff-necked and rebellious. In Daniel 9, we read about the same thing, after the fact. And in Corinthians, we read that the chastening is something in which to rejoice, because it calls us to repentance and it is there where we (like Daniel) encounter God's mercy.

So when I looked at the very last verse of Lev 26, where it says "These are the statutes and judgments and laws," I wondered "WHAT are the statutes and judgments and laws?" The moral code? The ten commandments? The promise of punishment? Or might the judgment be intimately tied in with verses 44-45: that God will be gracious and merciful to His people for the sake of His promise EVEN THOUGH they/we are scumbags.

Then, to top it all off, the psalm for the next morning was 102, reinforcing all those points from Bible class the day before.