Saturday, June 30, 2007

Psalm 91:3-4

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you shall take refuge.

Fowlers catch birds.

We are the ones in danger of the snare. After all, the psalmist says that God will deliver us from the fowler's snare.

But when we look at verse 4, who has the feathers and the wings?

Who is the fowler really after?

Does this psalm say something about the incarnation? Does it say something about Christ taking our punishment, being trapped in our place?

And further, might it say something about the cross? We are covered by His feathers and hide under the shadow of His wings, and that IS our refuge. You normally think of a person rescuing birds from a net, not another bird. But if we hide under His feathers like little chicks hide under a momma hen's wings, then might His being caught also involve our being caught? Nevertheless, "the snare is broken. We are free. Our help is ever, Lord, in Thee who madest earth and heaven" (TLH 267).

The cross He bore is life and health,
Though shame and death to Him,
His people's hope, His people's wealth,
Their everlasting theme. (TLH 219)


The experiment I wish I hadn't done --

A burn from the oven grate while I was working in the church kitchen. No aloe available. Wasn't that bad a burn. Ran icy cold water over it right away. Should've gotten the aloe from home, but had cooking and serving to do, so I didn't.

A couple of days later. A burn from charcoal. A much worse burn. Hotter item. Worse pain. Ran into the kitchen right away for aloe.

Watching those two burns heal was amazing. The second burn healed faster, hurt less, and left no scar. The second one -- the worse one -- healed in less than two weeks while the lighter burn took 5-6 weeks.

I learned my lesson. Take the time to get aloe on the burn right away.

A couple of years later, I inadvertently did the experiment again. (What? Did I not trust my scientific method the first time? Did we really need to repeat the experiment to verify results??) A stripe of a burn from the oven grate. (Yes, again!) Ran to get the aloe. Smeared it on. But the burn was bigger than I realized. I missed. I only managed to get aloe on half the stripe. Again, I observed the vast difference in the rate of healing. Two years later, I still have the scar from half that burn. The half that got the aloe, however, showed no sign of skin damage a few months after the injury.

This week when I ran the back of my hand against the oven grate (yes, again!!) I got the aloe and smeared it everywhere. I made a big ol' slimy mess all over my hand. The family had to wait an extra minute or so for dinner. But I have no pain, no blister, no scar. It's all healed already.

I think I'm learning.
And I hope my daughters have aloe in their kitchens!

(By the way, it does wonders for sunburn too. And I should make clear that I'm talking about real aloe: either out of an aloe plant's leaf, or store-bought 100% aloe. Not one of those creams with aloe in it.)

Friday, June 29, 2007

HSLDA Endorsement for President

I was stunned when a friend told me that the Home School Legal Defense Association has endorsed a presidential candidate. HSLDA has made some serious mistakes in the past. They purport to support homeschoolers, and yet they have no qualms about alienating huge batches of homeschoolers.

Homeschoolers must work together to protect their freedoms. No matter how strongly I support issues such as pro-life laws, simplifying the tax code, gun rights, or marriage, I do recognize that there are homeschoolers who disagree with me. If homeschoolers are willing to divide ourselves over social issues, we will begin to sell each other out (as HSLDA has been willing to do in the past).

I agree that a moderate Republican will probably not beat a Democrat. I'm not too terribly fond of the Republican Party, and my friend Scott loves to encourage us to learn more about the Constitution Party (which is for smaller government, even if it is too overtly Christian). HSLDA's claim that we need a true conservative on the Republican ticket is a valid claim. But there are other options beside the guy HSLDA is endorsing, who happens to be a governor who requires annual re-registration of homeschoolers with the government. Pr Eckardt suggests Fred Thompson as a Reaganesque candidate. I don't want to support any candidates at this point: right now it's necessary for my mental health to be rather ignorant of the campaigning.

But I do know one thing about the campaign. Any organization that wants to protect homeschooling freedoms ought not be endorsing candidates. A good way to defeat an enemy is to divide and conquer. Homeschoolers are willing to be our own worst enemies, dividing ourselves from within.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hot Flashes

Warning: this is a girly post. Guys have been forewarned.

Several months ago, I somehow discovered that I usually only get hot flashes and night sweats when I eat in the evening. But of course, I forgot. (After all, these days I forget EVERYthing!) We eat dinner in the early afteroon. Sometimes I fast in the evening. Sometimes I have a couple of eggs and a slice of toast. Sometimes I have a smoothie, or a small amount of leftovers. Seldom a whole meal. So I had no experiences reminding me of this discovery I made.

This is not how the rest of America operates, however. Five nights in the last two weeks, I was out there, socializing in The Real World, and ate a whole meal at 7:00 or later. Every time I ended up soaking my jammies with sweat.

Now, I don't know if this is just me, or if this is something that effects most women. And even if it did, would most women even be able to adjust their meal schedule so as to alleviate hot flashes? And would it be worth it to forego dinner with the family, if evening is the only time the family can eat together? But if it's possible, it sure does seem like a much easier way to deal with night sweats than the standard drugs/hormones that people get from their doctors.

(Chalk up another bizarre little benefit to homeschooling: dinner mid-day!)

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty years ago, we had just become Wisconsin residents. We had Wisconsin plates on our car. We had Wisconsin drivers licenses in our wallets. We lived in the most beautiful parsonage in the South Wisconsin District, a house which had recently been selflessly vacated by the Wietings under the guise of desiring home ownership.

On Sunday afternoon, June 28, Gary was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry.

Almighty God, heavenly Father, You have called Gary into the work of Your vineyard and have lavished upon him Your grace and all manner of spiritual and eternal gifts. Help him to live to You in humility and patience, to hope in Your pure grace and faithfulness, to abide in Your house, and to praise and magnify Your glorious grace forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bad Puns

The human cannonball told the circus owner that he had to retire. He was too old to go on, night after night, being shot across the tent, into the net. But the owner objected, "Where am I going to find another man of your caliber?"

Why did Humpty Dumpty have a great fall?
Because he wanted to make up for a lousy summer.

Why was the archeologist depressed?
Because his career was in ruins.

What do you call a guy who never farts in public?
A private tutor.

Why should you never fly with Peter Pan?
Because you'll never never land.

Reconsidering Surgery

The date is fast approaching for Maggie's pre-op MRI. Her pharyngeal surgery is scheduled for mid-August. In the last few days, it has crossed my mind that she's not hard to understand anymore.

She came out of her heart surgery with her voice very hypernasal, as it was prior to her cleft-palate surgery years ago. After waiting several weeks, expecting improvement and finding very little, we made an appt with the ENT. By the time we saw him a month later, her voice had improved just a tiny bit. By the time we attended the Cleft Palate Clinic, nearly four months later, she was doing better yet. They discovered she does again have a hole in her palate, presumably something that changed as she's been growing. But now, here we are, three months later, and noticing that we seldom have to ask her to repeat herself. We usually understand what she says.

This may be because we are family and we've become used to less-than-stellar speech habits. I asked Anthea on Sunday how she was hearing Maggie, and she thought Maggs sounded perfectly understandable. When Nathan called today with happy news about a successful job hunt, Maggie answered. He thought it was me; he thought she was entirely understandable.

So here's my question. All you friends and family members who have chatted with Maggie in the last month, what do you think? If you were at the wedding or at CCA, did you notice any difficulty in catching what Maggie was saying to you? If you talked with her, and did NOT notice anything odd about her speech, if you did not have to puzzle out something she was saying, it would be very helpful to hear that. But don't be "nice" and say she sounds fine if she doesn't; that would just lead us down the wrong path.

Requested at the Library

Imperfect Homeschooler wrote a couple of months ago about The Dangerous Book for Boys. A week later, I was visiting a mutual friend, Jane, and that book was lying on the kitchen table. I picked it up and started flipping through it. It looks great!

My daughter Rachel (the former bookstore guru/junkie/employee) tells me that the book was flying off the shelves at Borders. The store could NOT keep it in stock in sufficient quantities to appease the customers.

So today I thought I'd see if I could pick it up at the library. I doubted that it would be checked in, given the vast popularity of the book.


Here's where it's nice to be persistent and pesty regular patrons and thus know the librarian. I asked about the book, and she was interested. She gave me a request form, so I could ask the library to purchase it. She'd never heard of the book, but thought it sounded pretty interesting. Then curiosity grabbed hold of the staff in the children's section. They decided to look up info on this Dangerous Book. The head librarian was amazed! She said most books will have about 15-20 available for libraries to purchase. This one has 2198 books available. I asked what that meant. Did it mean it wasn't selling very many? She said that it meant just the opposite. She said it's so popular that they have to keep a large stash of these books handy so as to get them out to the libraries. I think that in itself convinced her they needed some copies.

We made the request, so we get to read it before anyone else may check it out. I hope it doesn't arrive the same week as Harry Potter! We're top of the list for that too.

If anybody hasn't heard of this book yet, and would like to get a little taste of what it's about, Barbara linked to a Washington Post article about the author and his ideas that caused him to write this book. It's about boys being manly, and not being girly (quite the unusual notion in the last couple of decades).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Singing the Devil Away (17)

After Dr Kleinig finished discussing the hymn with us, he talked about the foundation of basic spiritual warfare.

God's law accuses. That is true. And it is good.

Satan is the Accuser. That's what his name means. It's what he does.

How do we make sense of God's good law accusing AND the devil wrongly accusing? Well, Satan accuses even beyond the law. He accuses us of things which the law does not condemn.

The other thing Satan does is remind us of the condemnation due us. He accuses, and his accusations are true. We know we are guilty. We know we have transgressed. We know that Satan is telling the truth [gasp!] when he accuses us of sin. The devil's accusations are not untrue, but his demand for our condemnation IS UNTRUE.

Jesus said, "I will convict the world of ... righteousness, because I go to My Father." The condemnation has been meted out upon Jesus, so the fact that we are guilty in the face of his accusations has absolutely no bearing on whether we stand condemned.

Jesus said, "I will convict the world of ... judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." Who has been judged? Us? No. The Accuser.

The way to combat the devil is to agree with his accusations, but to stop him when he claims you must be condemned for your transgressions. For example, Luther said that we can tell the devil, "Thank you for pointing out that sin. I'd forgotten that one. Now I can thank Jesus for forgiving that one too."

While websurfing for the title of Kleinig's new book, I happened to run across an online transcript of John Kleinig's lectures at the Gerhardt symposium last month. It figures that I find it NOW, after having already summarized the two lectures. LOL.

White Flour

Cheryl wrote a post on her family's attempts at healthier eating. Her fourth point was about moving to more whole grains and less use of refined foods.

Piggy-backing on Cheryl's comments, I thought of what my friend Cheri told me about a research project. One group of lab rats was given whole-wheat bread and water. Another group was given white bread and water. The third group was given just water. The rats without food were NOT the ones who died first. The ones with just water died second. Kinda scary....


We're reading our first Henty book. The word gallant appears frequently. I just kept guessing at how to pronounce the word, because I'd heard both the first and second syllables stressed. So today I did a novel thing: I looked it up in the dictionary.

So, in case y'all are confused as I was, here's the deal. When the word means noble or brave or stately or handsome, then it's pronounced GAL-lunt. When the word is used to mean that a man is courteous toward women, polite, and attentive to them, accompanying a woman in a mannerly way, then he is gal-LONT.

Singing the Devil Away (16)

The last stanza of Let Me Rise is where Gerhardt finally renounces the depression, as he was encouraging himself to do in the first stanza.

He doesn't deny the reality of the depression.
He doesn't hang onto the depression.
Instead, he sings the devil away.

Dr Kleinig reminded us that the practice of piety involves praying/singing doctrinal hymns and devotional hymns. These hymns teach the heart to sing what is true and what is right, regardless of how we feel. Doctrinal hymns used in our devotions will carry us through times of sorrow and of joy, times of health and of illness, times of highs and lows. Our piety is dependent upon the objective truth of God's word and what He has done to save me. When we sing about it, we are preserved in the faith.

These hymns chase the devil away.

These hymns bring comfort to beseiged Christians. The "comfort" isn't about feeling better. Rather, the comfort is found where doctrine strengthens the soul, where doctrine vivifies faith. God's word sung and prayed will have its effect, regardless of how it hits our emotional state.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Singing the Devil Away (15)

God treats Christian people well
Even in their troubles.
Those who cry a while on earth
Will not wail forever.
They will take complete delight
In Christ's heavenly garden
Which He has prepared for them
For their full enjoyment.

Though God's children sow with tears
In a time of sorrow,
Yet at last the year brings on
All that they have longed for.
After winter comes the time
To bring in the harvest;
Then their pain and trouble bear
Fruit in joy and laughter.

Dr Kleinig pointed out that Paul Gerhardt was speaking from experience here. He was not arguing doctrine in the last four stanzas. Rather, he was just expressing the highs and lows of life that he had experienced. Satan takes these lows and exaggerates them, bringing on depression.

Dr Kleinig talked about the cross being the secret to managing depression and finding joy in life. God uses our sins to refine us. Our sorrow can even increase our capacity for enjoyment of life. In other words, the anfechtung is both good and bad (as is Jesus' cross) and is used by God for our blessing.

The Moral of the Story

Rachel came over today for Maggie's birthday party. She brought Hero, her new kitten, which is the sister of our new little Rosie kitten. Even if they didn't remember each other after their two weeks apart, we hoped they'd enjoy playing with another kitty. After all, Rosie wants so badly to play with our middle-aged cat, which will have nothing to do with her.

But Rosie has learned from Athena how to behave when there's another cat around. Hiss. Spit. Growl. And bop the interloper with your paw. So Hero was trying to be friendly and play, but Rosie would have none of it.

The moral of the story? Socialization is best accomplished by not learning bad habits from others. Hero, who lived with her family and then went to live alone with her people, knows how to be nice. Rosie had to fit into a pecking order, and learned to hit and growl.

So what do human children learn when they're thrown into a pecking order at school?

Job Hunting

Seems like everybody is looking for jobs. Two daughters are applying for jobs in their new towns. One son-in-law is still waiting to hear back on a job that he is hoping is a sure thing. And one son is considering using his next couple of weeks (while the plant is shut down temporarily for lack of work) to job hunt up in the city. While some of us have more to do than can possibly be taken care of, my kids are getting bored!

There's a lot of the traditional frustration with not being able to get a job without experience. And "needing" to have the college degree to do a job for which they were eminently qualified by the time they graduated from high school. The new-fangled online way of applying for jobs doesn't even give a person a chance to make a good impression by how she's dressed or her interpersonal skills on meeting the boss.

You Know It's Humid When ...

you're hanging up your daughter's half-birthday streamers, and they start to sag. I mean, by the time you have half the roll hung across the ceiling, some of the swags are scraping your head as you walk through the room. And by the time you're done with one whole whoppin' roll of streamers, everybody has to duck their way through the living room.

By the time we get to the birthday pie, I suspect the cats will be able to bat around the streamers that we'll be stepping over instead of ducking under. So much for putting them on the ceiling!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Singing the Devil Away (14)

Children whom a father trains
In what's good and wholesome,
Seldom grow and flourish well
Without firm correction.
So if I am God's dear child,
Why should I resist Him
Who instructs me from my sins
To receive His blessings?

I mentioned at the end of the last post that the cross will come, but that it is good. Not only outside afflictions, but even our sins, serve to teach us to receive God's blessings. Anything that crushes us and our self-esteem and our pride in ourselves makes us ever more dependent on a Savior who has done everything for us, leaving nothing undone, leaving nothing in our hands to accomplish. (And that's the only place where we're safe, when nothing is left to our own doing.)

Pr Weedon recently posted a bunch of quotes from our Confessions regardingthe benefits of affliction. Pr Stuckwisch has recently posted some excerpts from Luther on Galatians on the oppression of our sins and our feelings about our trials. And Pr Fenton has a story on wisdom from Elder Paisios that touches on why we don't always enjoy the amendment of life we would desire but instead continue to struggle.

Y'know, given enough years struggling with your sinful nature, and enough years of reveling in the absolution, and enough years of having a faithful pastor talk about the benefits of bearing your cross, a person can almost begin to agree with Paul (!) when he says wildly bizarro things like "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). Because, after all, "Why should I resist Him who instructs me from my sins to receive His blessings?"