Saturday, February 03, 2007


I went to bed last night after the furnace had turned off, and it was 58 in the bedroom. A little cooler than normal, but not too bad. But when I got up in the morning, several hours after the furnace had kicked on, it was still only 61 on the main floor, and 63 in the basement. Usually it's 61-63 in the basement, and 67-68 upstairs. The wind was roaring! I mean that literally -- the sound of the wind around the house was enough to wake sleeping people. By mid-morning, when the wind had died down to simply "very windy," the furnace was finally able to make some headway against the cold.

I managed to force myself out in the sunshine to jog in spite of the cold. Enough layers of appropriate clothing can do wonders against the weather. I was thinking how wonderful ski masks are! It reminded me, though, of a news story we read in the kids' current events paper yesterday. (Okay, okay, so it's old news. We got behind on reading our school newspapers during surgery recuperation.) The Netherlands has outlawed the wearing of burqas and other headgear that conceals the face.

Last night at the guys' Belegarth practice, there was another group of medieval fighters using the same arena for practice. Instead of fighting with foam weaponry, these guys were fighting with wood swords. (Rumor has it that sometimes they use metal.) Because of their more dangerous weapons, they had fancier and stronger armor. I mean, these dudes were wearing cool regalia, with knight's helmets and everything. But these guys couldn't go out in public in Holland.

So if people can't wear ski-masks in the Netherlands anymore, what do they do when it gets cold? Maybe it doesn't get as wickedly cold there as it does here. But still, mightn't they need something to cover the face now and then to prevent frostbite? Or if not frostbite, simply something to make them more comfortable on chilly days? Makes me shiver just to think about being outside today for more than 5 minutes without a ski mask!

I'm regretting the lack of snow fencing again today. The county snow plows have been out on the roads repeatedly. The van was parked near the house, and I took it to town for less than an hour. When I came home, the driveway in front of the garage was already drifted about 8' wide and 2-3' deep. I shoveled it partway out, and parked the van back in that spot, to act as surrogate snow-fence. Hopefully that will help keep the drifts in front of the house instead of blocking the garage.

It's supposed to be just as cold tomorrow, but with an improvement in windiness level, we should go from windchills of -30 up to about -15. That's significant. When we were in town this afternoon, you could tell how much warmer it was there than in the country, where the wind just picks up awesome amounts of speed and then scrubs your face with sand-sized ice particles. Looking forward to highs of 10 and 15 later next week.

Friday, February 02, 2007

"As You Have Believed"

The stories in this week's Congregation at Prayer are on prayer. Yesterday at Matins, we were reading and discussing "The Centurion Prays to Jesus for His Servant" (Mt 8:5-13). Today's story is about the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mt 15:21-28).

Yesterday's story concluded with Jesus saying, "As you have believed, so let it be done for you." And today's with "Great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire."

Before yesterday, I'd always heard that line, "as you have believed, so let it be done for you," as a deal, a contract, a limitation. You believe a lot? All righty, then you get the blessing big-time. You struggle and have a weak faith? Well, I guess then Jesus will only give you a smidgeon of what you want. Good grief, how "theology of glory"ish can you get? How works-righteous can you get? But that's nevertheless what I heard at the end of the Rite of Corporate Confession (TLH pg 48 and LSB 291) and other times that verse was invoked by friends admonishing me for weak faith and saying that I just had to "believe more."

Yesterday at Matins, I asked about this. Pastor pointed out that Jesus said this to a man who "had great faith." Jesus did not say it as a threat or an admonishment. Same in today's story. Jesus exclaimed over the woman's great faith, and then said "let it be to you." There wasn't any IF about it! In fact, the story of the disciples' "small faith" or "no faith" (when the boat was sinking at the end of Mark 4) shows quite the opposite. Jesus' gifts to His people are not dependent on the extent of their faith: He stilled the wind and waves, and saved those disciples who were behaving quite faithlessly. You might even say that "God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayer, even to all evil people."

What a comfort!

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I was talking to a good friend who's a college prof. He expressed frustration over the number of papers turned in that are plagiarized. I understand how easy it is for kids (or adults) to steal papers anymore, what with Internet accessibility to online encyclopedias, online articles, and even term papers available for the downloading. But don't they realize that (due to the same Internet accessibility) it's even easiER for the profs to catch them in their plagiarism than it is for them to hunt up an appropriate paper to steal in the first place? Don't they understand that writers have a "voice," and that turning in essays and term papers written by a variety of authors throws up red-flags for the teacher ... because it sounds like the student has multiple personalities and voices showing through in his writing style? What's even more stunning is that the plagiarist shows no remorse when he is caught -- just indignance. It's very disheartening to know that people like that are going out into the business world where they'll be inflicted upon employers and customers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The things that go through a do-it-yourselfer's mind when she's in the kitchen....

There was all that hoopla in the 80s about the eeeeevil Pres Reagan wanting to classify ketchup as a vegetable in the school lunch programs. Did he, or didn't he? Was it a misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion by the media that hated the President? Whatever it was with regard to politics, I thought something altogether different.

Anybody who's ever made ketchup realizes just how many (many many) tomatoes go into a batch of ketchup. It crossed my mind that people of Reagan's generation would know that. They had moms who made ketchup. They had moms who canned. They got sent out in the garden to fetch more produce for mom to put up. The young whipper-snapper reporters don't know where ketchup comes from. Yeah, sure, they know there's tomato in it. But do they really know?

I am fully aware that a tiny little ketchup packet on a hamburger does not constitute a "serving" of vegetables. But it seems to me that 1/3 cup of ketchup dipped up with fries at least provides some lycopene and vitamin C. If we can say that carrots cooked down to mush and tossed with butter and brown sugar is a vegetable; if we can call green-bean casserole a vegetable; if we can call jello salad or store-bought fruit-leather a fruit; then certainly we can call ketchup a vegetable.

In my house, a quart of spinach salad or a half-pound of steamed broccoli is what we call a "serving of vegetables." But if we're going to play the American Nutrition Game, then it just bugs me that people bash Reagan for calling ketchup a vegetable.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Infant Communion Site

Our ISP quit hosting webpages and neglected to tell us of the address change of the new server. Apparently my husband's site for the extensive bibliography (pro and con) on infant communion had disappeared and we were unaware of it until recently. It can now be linked by clicking here or through the link in my sidebar. (If anyone else links to the site, you may want to change your template too.)

Brightest and Best

One of the legacies that [the Rev Dr] Steve Wiest handed down to us was how to see Protestant hymns through Lutheran eyes. Pr Wiest showed us how "Just As I Am" makes a good communion hymn as opposed to a commit-your-heart-to-Jesus hymn. One time when he was substitute preaching here in late Epiphany, he used the Thanksgiving hymn "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" as the hymn to accompany the Mt 13 story of "The Tares and the Wheat."

Yesterday morning we were singing "Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning." Nothing wrong with it, but not exactly on my Top-Ten list of favorites. But then I thought of the connection that Pr Fabrizius has made between the manger and the tomb: both places where Jesus lay, wrapped in strips of cloth, on a stone slab. In addition to the manger, one can think of the tomb: "Angels adore Him in slumber reclining, Maker and Monarch and Savior of all." In stanza 3 of the hymn, where we sing about things that devoted hearts could offer to Jesus (along with adoration and prayers -- verse 4), we hear about "odors of Edom" and "myrrh from the forest" -- items the women probably brought to the tomb on Easter morning.

Those dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshipers.
With what rapture gaze we on those glorious scars!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


The line in the bank yesterday was long. I'm not used to being there on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, and the crowd there then always surprises me. While I was waiting, one of the clerks was cooing at a customer's baby, and chatting at length about planned Caesareans versus emergency Caesareans. Shortly thereafter, someone pulls up to the drive-up window and asks about ordering Girl Scout cookies from the daughter of one of the tellers. The cookie order was scribbled down, with name and cookie choices, and I was still standing in line.

I wasn't really irritated or anything. But thoughts were flitting through my mind that this isn't the way customers should be treated. The socializing and the non-work activities should take a backseat to waiting on the bank customers.

But then I realized something. People here know each other. They're interacting like people instead of like automatons who are cogs in the Human Resource Department. If I go to a different branch of our bank, I have to show ID and jump through all the banking hoops that most of the rest of y'all live with regularly. I don't have to do that at our bank.

For example, yesterday I needed to get into the safe deposit box to look at savings bonds. (By the way, for those of you who have to fill out college financial aid forms and need to find the value of savings bonds, the government's online Savings Bond Calculator makes a breeze of that job!) Did I have to show ID to get into my safe-deposit box? No. Did I even have to tell them my name? No. I just said that I needed to get into it, and the girl (the NEW girl who's hardly ever waited on me) went to fetch the box and the paperwork. The girls at the bank all know our names, where we live, that our kids are connected to us and not somebody else's kids, what my husband's job is, etc etc.

There's information galore available on protecting one's identity. But the bad guys can be sophisticated with their forged documents and their slick way with computers and ID numbes. But actually knowing people is safety in a whole different realm. There ain't nobody who could get by with going into my local bank and cashing one of my checks, taking money out of my savings account, or dipping into my safe-deposit box.

Lots of times, the label "Podunk" is used in a derogative manner. But to me, there's something dear about Podunkville. The guy that I used to sub paper-route for lived in the nearby big city of 60,000 people. He said that coming out here to do paper routes was like visiting Mayberry. Hooray for Mayberry!