Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pew Cushions

The roof at my father-confessor's church is being redone. Crunchy stuff keeps falling down in the nave. You can't really see it come down, but it's crunchy when you walk. And the hymnals have a fine powder on them. That's why the pew cushions were removed -- to ease clean-up.

Oh my goodness! The organ sounds wonderful! The chanting sounds wonderful! The congregational singing sounds wonderful! I never imagined that those pew cushions (which aren't even on the back of the pews, but just the seats) could make so much difference!


You know what? It is immensely inconvenient to have your cupboard/pantry/refrigerator about 300' from your stove/sink.

The septic system was hogging our attention as the problem. And then we discovered that our propane tank is nearly empty. The gauge reads "zero," but we don't smell the skunk oil that lurks in the very dredges of the tank. Not yet. So no heat. (I am so glad for these nice warm days!) Not until the bill from last winter gets paid. But it also means I have to cook over at church. It's not easy to drag everything back and forth. But as long as I can use the stove at church and as long as I can boil water over there to use in the wash machine over here, we can stretch out the propane so as to (hopefully!) have hot water for bathing until the propane company consents to fill our tank.

By the time dinner was nearly cooked today, it crossed my mind that maybe we should just knuckle under and eat out. Then I realized that for our family to eat two meals at a low- to average-priced restaurant, we would have to spend more than Gary earns in a day. That just doesn't seem like a good use of funds.

I keep telling myself that all sorts of people struggle along without a kitchen now and then, such as during a remodeling project. But people who can afford a remodeling project can probably also afford to eat out sometimes. And people who are remodeling a kitchen still have a bathroom where dishes can be washed in hot water .... with a drain to remove the water from the house! (Ain't it amazing how a little Doing Without makes you appreciate the mundane?!?) I keep telling myself that we could make do with electric skillets and crockpots, but even with that, I'd have to be cooking in the bedrooms to avoid overloading the wiring in the kitchen and dining room which is so wacky.

Is this what we call "Making Memories"? LOL!

Pastor Prowatske

The funeral is on Saturday. Of course, we care about his wife and daughter and how much they must miss him, and we pray for their comfort. But it didn't hit me till Bible class this morning how much I will miss him. He didn't talk as much during class as certain other people do. But when he did, oh!, the sweet things he said. The insights. The exegetical help. Always pointing to the cross and what Christ has done for us.

And he loved his hymns and his hymnal. I doubt anyone but Pastor P and I would "accuse" Pastor Bender of not liking to sing. Sometimes we'd have a 15-stanza hymn for the hymn of the week, and Pastor would tell us which 4-5 stanzas we'd sing for prayers during Bible class. Then Pr Prowatske would protest that we should sing ALL the stanzas, and I'd agree. Or I'd say, "Hey, you can't leave out the 6th and the 9th & 10th!" And Pr P would back me up.

Pastor Prowatske said that they'd always sing every stanza of any hymn he chose for his congregation. His daughter liked that. I'd like that too!

We have no cause to mourn or weep.
Securely shall this body sleep
Till Christ Himself shall death destroy
And raise the blessed dead to joy.

For they who with Him suffered here
Shall there be healed from woe and fear.
And when eternal bliss is won,
They'll shine in glory like the sun.


Maggie started swimming lessons today. One of the local resorts is letting the Rec District use the hotel pool. Having never had her in swimming lessons before, we didn't know which level to choose. The teacher was impressed with her skills and suggested that she might be better off in the next level up. So next week we'll do that.

With its being such a pretty day and so nice and warm, we decided to stop by the beach on our way home. It was gorgeous. But ....

We discovered what a difference the daily grooming all summer makes. There was seaweed piled up along the shore. Normally that is raked away daily. The sand was not groomed, so there were some ant hills and there were gull droppings. During summer, those usually get disturbed and cleaned up daily. And on top of that, yowsa.... several chilly nights and one hard frost sure does make a big difference in the water temperature of the lake. Maggie swam for about ten minutes, and then couldn't take the cold any longer. That means it was too cold for me to even think about getting wet!

Summer will be back in just 9 more months.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


For those of y'all who've asked:
No. My backyard is not ripped to shreds yet. No, the repairmen will not be here this week. The appointment is currently set for Wednesday the 26th.

At this point, we're ready to forego all the water-usage restrictions we've put on ourselves, and just go ahead and have the septic tank pumped however often it needs it. We can't go another full week or longer without being able to drain water from our home.


The Gospel this Sunday (in the one-year series) was from Matthew 6. Jesus invites us to look at how He takes care of everything He has made, and He promises that He will take care of us because we are so much more valuable than the birds and the flowers. Why worry when God is on our side, a God who daily and richly provides us with all that we need to support this body and life?

But then things get rocky. Maybe a person doesn't have plumbing, and thinks "woe is me." Maybe a person doesn't have heat in his home, and thinks God's falling down on the job of providing for him. Maybe a person doesn't have a steady (or sufficient) income, and frets over what the future holds.

And yet, Jesus promises to take care of us. So sometimes, through the power of the Absolution, a person may even have his little heart calmed from fear of what the future holds as far as temporal goods. After all, if you have no food or home, if you have no money, if your health is shot, "what can man do to me?" Jesus lives, and now is death but the gate of life immortal. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. The Lord gives; the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

But then,
there's another loss.

What happens when God withholds His word? (Or, at least, it appears that that is His plan.)

God promises to uphold us in the Faith. God promises to do this through the Word, and only through the Word. When it appears that God Himself is abandoning a person, when God Himself (who is Truth itself) is reneging on His promise, that makes the loss of income or home or family or friends or health seem like piddly little problems.

God had told Abraham for decades that He would send a Savior. A Savior that would come through Abraham's son. Nope, the heir of Abraham's house wasn't gonna be a good enough heir. Nope, Abraham's son by his quasi-wife wasn't gonna be the one either. It would be Isaac. THAT was the son who was the promised seed of Abraham.

Then God said, "Kill him."

We tend to look at that story and think about the obvious.

GOD said, "Kill him"??? But this God says, "You shall not murder." This God disapproves of human sacrifice. What's up with the "Kill him"??

We think of how much Abraham and Sarah loved their son. They love him as much as we love our children. When a child dies, the parents' heart is broken! How could they inflict that sort of pain on themselves?

But both those are temporal difficulties. BIG difficulties, to be sure. But still, temporal, earthly difficulties.

When God told Abraham to kill Isaac, that meant something even bigger. "I'm taking away My promise. I told you that I would send a Savior who would be the son of Isaac. Well, now I'm asking you to kill Isaac."

Think about what that meant to Abraham. For all reasonable intents and purposes, God was saying that He was changing His mind and not sending a Savior after all. No Savior for Abraham and Sarah. No Savior for the world. No atonement for sin. No way to restore communion with God.

The loss of the world's salvation and the loss of God Himself is a whole lot bigger deal eeeeven than the loss of one's dearly beloved child. But any reasonable person could see that that was the consequence of killing the son through whom the promised salvation would come.

But even when it appeared incontrovertible that God was going back on His promise, He wasn't. And Abraham trusted that God knew what He was doing. God grant us to trust Him even when there's evidence that He "doesn't care."

Zion mourns in fear and anguish,
Zion, city of our God.
"Ah," she says, "how sore I languish,
bowed beneath the chastening rod!
For my God forsook me quite
and forgot my sorry plight."

"Let not Satan make thee craven.
He can threaten but not harm.
On My hands thy name is graven,
and thy shield is My strong arm.
How, then, could it ever be
I should not remember thee,
fail to build thy walls, My city,
and look down on thee with pity."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Past the Boundaries

When I was a little girl, there were places I could go. Places far far away from home. There was the playground: it was three blocks away! Then I got older and went to school: it was five blocks away! The two good buddies I made at school were girls who lived (pretty much) between me and school. In the neighborhood, we just didn't play with kids who lived more than a half-block away. So having friends from five blocks away was really stepping out into the big wide world!

Now I live in the country. I drive two miles before I even come to a stop sign. Four or five miles to the nearest little villages.

We're visiting my folks for a few days. Having skipped three out of the last four days jogging, I knew I couldn't allow myself to skip it while out of town again. So today I jogged down to the playground, and [gasp!] kept right on going past it! I usually jog two miles a day, and when I got to my grade-school, I had completed only 1/4 of my jog. So I had quite a ways to go yet before I could even turn around and head back home.

It's a funny feeling to go past the boundaries. It gives an odd feeling of being all grown-up, and yet the amazingly fresh memory of how "far away" those places were -- places that were once off-limits because of being a whole mile away. It's a funny feeling to be halfway home from my old grade-school, and see the intersection near my parents' house up ahead, and realize that if I were at home, traversing that distance wouldn't even take me to the next-door neighbor's house.

I can't even imagine how it must be for Texans and Alaskans to find themselves in a small midwestern city where everything is so close by, where the FAR end of town is about 15 minutes away, where that 15-minute radius can offer nearly any store or restaurant or entertainment you could wish for. Being from a place with low population density, in my hometown I now feel like a gawky tourist.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Poison in the Cup

Today's office hymn included the portions:
What God ordains is always good.
His loving thought attends me.
No poison can be in the cup
That my Physician sends me.

and later
What God ordains is always good.
Though I the cup am drinking
Which savors now of bitterness
I take it without shrinking.

Poison usually tastes bitter. It's a protection for us: the natural reaction to the bitter taste is to spit it out before the poison gets into you.

However, medicine usually tastes bitter too. (Or at least, it did in the old days before we came up with all the chemical concoctions we have for medicine now.)

So if I am drinking the cup which savors of bitterness, I will be inclined to think that it's poisonous. But it could be medicine from the Physician. Hard to tell, based just on the experience of bitter taste. According to the hymnist, what God gives will be good, even if it appears to my senses to be dangerously poisonous and distasteful.