Saturday, December 08, 2007

Daily Bread

God gives daily bread.
Whatever we have is from Him.
Whatever we have is what He has decided is good for us.

Because of our sinful flesh, we are never satisfied with the amount of what we have.

But sometimes people don't have.
There are house-fires. There are deaths. There is war. And hunger. And betrayal. And concentration camps. And unemployment.
This can seem paradoxical at times, because God gives daily bread even when it appears that there is evidence that He doesn't.

When we don't have:
1. we still know God gives what we do have
2. we still praise Him
3. we still believe that this is good
4. and most importantly, we still have Jesus and His forgiveness.

Give us this day our daily "Living Bread which came down from heaven."

Another Ethanol Rant

I got stuck having to fill (I mean, FILL) the tank with ethanol-laced gasoline. After driving on it for a few days and topping off the tank, I discovered that instead of 29 mpg on real gas, I got 20 mpg on the corny stuff. That means I'm gonna have to pay FIFTY PERCENT MORE for gas when I can't find real gas anymore. That stinks. Who came up with the bright idea to "save gas" by making our fuel-economy nosedive???

Wisconsin Winter Joke

Nancy told this at Bible class this week, and I thought it was a crack-up.

Do you know how to adjust your dishwasher to use it for snow removal? Just hand her a shovel.

Psalm 90

Till this morning, whenever I've prayed this psalm I hear the music of "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past" going through my mind. I've always heard this psalm in terms of us and our needs and what God does today. But today I realized this was written by Moses. My head knew that before: it's written right at the top of the psalm. Today, though, I realized it.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
During those 400 years in Egypt. And when Abraham was bopping around Canaan as a nomad. And when Jacob had run away to Uncle Laban. The Lord had all along been their dwelling place.

For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past.
So I guess 400 years is, like, less than half of yesterday, huh?

You turn man to destruction.... You carry them away like a flood.
And all of Pharaoh's horses and all of Pharaoh's men were floating dead on the Red Sea when morning dawned.

For all our days have passed away in Your wrath.
Except for the kids and Joshua and Caleb, all of Moses' followers passed away in the wilderness of Sinai, as they waited until the nation was permitted into the Promised Land.

Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us.

Their hands had worked at the artisanry of building the tabernacle, weaving the tapestries, shaping the goldwork. And that tabernacle brought to them the glory and beauty of the Lord as He forgave their transgressions.

Meat Scraps

Maggie went next door to play with the neighbor kids. The grandma sent her home with meat scraps for our cats. The kids and I looked at that little baggie of beef. We all thought it looked like very good people-food that should be stir-fried with some veggies. We're not going to eat it because we don't know if it's already been in a pet bowl, or if it's old meat, or what other reason might have caused those beautiful little chunks of beef to be labeled "pet food." But I suspect there's just a huge huge difference between us and the neighbors about what constitutes garbage.

Lipstsick on the Chalice

Maybe the rule should be that the people in charge of washing purificators should be the women who wear red lipstick at the altar rail.

It really is okay, ladies, to wipe off most of your lipstick after the sermon or the Agnus Dei.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Far Off Place

We watched this movie tonight. Overall it was pretty good.

Basic plot is two white kids (one raised in Africa, one there against his will for vacation) end up in danger and must make their way across the Kalahari Desert. They have a Bushman friend with them. Poachers are out to kill them.

It was interesting to see Reese Witherspoon as a teenager.

Somewhat predictable plot. But that's fine with me. I like predictable plots that don't jumble my wee little brain. And I usually like survivalist stories.

I always wondered about the "clicky language." A couple of the characters spoke in the clicky language. Guess what? It's not all clicks like they told me. There are vowels and other sounds too. But it does have quite a few clicks in it that my western mouth doesn't want to make.

The one thing we didn't like was the religion. Part of the message of the story was that the god Mantis was watching out for the characters, protecting them, providing for them, responding to their "prayers," and communicating with them. If only we could be in tune with nature the way the Bushmen are, we too could have nature on our side, helping us against bad guys.

But other than that, it was definitely a movie worth the two hours time.

Does He Remember?

A pastor vows at his ordination never to reveal the sins confessed to him. Luther says that a pastor is to "make his ears a tomb" to what he hears in the confessional.

There have been times when I've tried to speak with Pastor (maybe 10 minutes or a few days or a few weeks later) about a matter which I had referred to during private confession. He would respond, "I don't know WHAT you're talking about." Oh, yeah... right. He doesn't remember what he heard.

And yet,...
he's got a brain. He remembers. Sure, there are some things he doesn't remember. He practices forgetfulness. He prays for God's Spirit to put out of his mind the things he hears in the confessional.

But when he "remembers," is that a problem?

I've actually found that there is blessing in that too. When the pastor has heard the same confession over and over and over, when he repeatedly listens to the grief over the same iniquity, when he repeatedly forgives the besetting sin, there is some comfort in that he doesn't physically/mentally "forget." He knows me in my sinful condition. But he doesn't treat me any differently. He doesn't consider me any less a Christian. He doesn't demean me before others. He doesn't give away any hint of my sin.

But he knows. And what does he do with that knowledge?

He takes the opportunity during Bible class and sermons to say things in a way that will not distress me. He speaks words of comfort in his preaching that will assuage the guilt of me and other penitents -- while never revealing sin confessed to him.

If a person has a bad back and can't sit for an hour through Bible class, maybe the pastor would make sure that person has a padded chair, or that there's a spot near the back where the person is free to get up and walk around for a few minutes during class. If a person has poor eyesight, maybe the pastor will make sure a large-print Bible is available. The pastor uses his knowledge of our physical weakness so that he can serve the sinners in his care. His knowledge of macular degeneration or arthritis doesn't make him think less of his people.

In the same way, Pastor's knowledge of my sinful weakness doesn't make him think less of me. Rather, it makes it easier for him to take care of me and serve me and bring Jesus to me in my own particular struggles.

And isn't that a picture of God? God is omniscient. It's not like He's unaware of our sin. And yet He says, "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jer 31).

I don't have to hide my sin from God. In fact, when we cover up our sin, we suffer for it. (See Psalm 32.) In the same way, confessing sin before the pastor will not result in having our noses rubbed in it, nor getting "instruction" in how to "be better," nor having the pastor look down his nose at us. Confession before the pastor teaches us in an experiential way how God's "head knowledge" of our sin fits with the truth that He does NOT remember our sin.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Used Books

When a person -- with much pain and grievous letting go -- clears out her bookshelves, then what is to become of the books? Some can be sold to other homeschoolers via websites or the spring conference. A few can be sold to used-book stores. But what about the rest? The ones that are valuable, but no longer valuable enough to keep on your own shelves? The ones that could benefit a family, except that everyone else's bookshelves seem to be full too?

I realize there are websites where I can sell some items. But I don't particularly want to type in the names, authors, publishers, and asking-prices of hundreds of books that might sell for a dime or a quarter. The idea, though, of throwing these books in the trash seems horribly harsh and wasteful. Books are friends! We don't throw our friends in the dumpster.

Wet Socks

A local resort is offering their pool to the rec district for swimming lessons. One of the rules they set up is "No shoes in the pool area." Everybody has to remove shoes at the door.

My socks come off too, and wait with my shoes.

Other people wear their socks. This is by a pool. There are puddles. There is no way to avoid stepping in puddles and getting wet socks. I hate wet socks. It makes me shudder every week to see these mommies and kids walking from their seats, through puddles, to the door, to put their shoes back on.

I hate wet socks.


People tell me that the Roman Catholic Church no longer teaches salvation by works alongside their teaching of God's grace in Christ to sinners. Some people tell me that indulgences are a thing of the past.

I remember, though, all the indulgences that were made available in the year 2000. So many years off purgatory for giving up smoking for a half-day. (So what would I get, given that I haven't smoked for my whole life?) So many years off purgatory for working in a soup kitchen. There was a whole list in our secular daily-newspaper.

Pastor Esget passes along information that pilgrimages made on certain days to certain Marian shrines will get you an earlier release from purgatory. This is not news that inclines me to believe that the pope is as strong on justification as some of my friends would like for me to believe.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Collect for Advent 1

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come
that by Your protection
we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins
and saved by Your mighty deliverance,

Okay, I always thought that meant we were praying that the Lord would end the world, and bring us to heaven.

But when Pastor was talking about the meaning behind "threatening peril of our sins," something occurred to me about the verb. (Mentally diagramming sentences in collects and Pauline writings helps so much.) Come that we may be rescued and saved.

It's not just the end of the world that saves us from these perils.

It's not just Jesus' having come in the flesh 2000+ years ago to die on the cross and save us from our sins.

He comes NOW. He comes in the absolution when Pastor says, "Susan, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." He comes when the pastor places Jesus' own body onto my tongue. He comes now. And that coming IS what rescues us NOW from "the threatening peril of our sins." We won't be rescued on the Last Day unless we are being rescued now. Like Pastor so often says, Judgment Day is not going to be anything new and different; it will simply be the public announcement of the judgment of absolution that God has been speaking to us Christians all along.

Come, Lord Jesus, that by the protection of Your blood shed we may be rescued by the blessed message of forgiveness poured over us and into us.

Frugal on Groceries

The first rule of being frugal on the grocery bill is to eat the food that's fresh. You don't open a can of peaches if there's a cantaloupe to be cut. You don't get out Ramen noodles or a box of mac&cheese for a light supper if there is leftover chicken-n-dumplings in the fridge to be nuked. You don't eat the Oreos when there is leftover home-made coffeecake on the table. You don't take things out of the freezer or the cupboard when there are foods on the counter or in the refrigerator that would spoil within a week.

This doesn't seem terribly complicated.
Why do so many people (including one I live with) not understand this?

Stock in Band-Aid

Dry weather and chapped hands.
Carrying newspaper bundled with sharp-edged plastic cord.
Eczema and other allergic rashes.

As if I didn't have enough cuts on my hands.... Apparently, if you drop heavy dishes out of the cupboard, on top of the dirty glasses waiting to be washed, the flying glass shards will cause more blood to appear on one's hands. (Go figure!)

I don't think I've ever used as many band-aids in one day as I used in the one hour at dinnertime today. BUT there was no blood in the food, no blood spots on my shirt, and there was no blood on the laundry I was folding. Hooray for the band-aids! (The many many band-aids....)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Homeschool Laugh

My friend Karin posted an article on her blog from the Secular Homeschool Magazine ($7 per issue, which is $28 for a one-year subscription). Deborah Markus is the author of a "Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List."

It includes items such as
15. Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
18. If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

Go check out the new magazine and enjoy a giggle!

Monday, December 03, 2007


Bigfoot has no shoes. He has some flipflops I bought for $45. (That's what happens to shoe prices when your cute little child grows up ... and up and up ... and becomes Bigfoot.)

It's getting cold. There's snow on the ground. My son Bigfoot can't live in flipflops all winter. But where to buy shoes that big?

Visiting my folks today, something came up about shoes. Eureka! My dad is a bigfoot too. Not as big as my son. But still a bona fide bigfoot. While we were in their city, we decided to go shop at their shoe store. Wow -- those people know how to fit shoes. And they know about feet. And they work with the podiatrists at the hospital.

I had to pay a horrifying price for a pair of black tennis shoes that will have to suffice as everyday shoes, boots, and dress shoes. But my kid has shoes! Real shoes -- the kind where his toes are covered! And he has the comfort of having a pair of shoes that actually FIT and don't pinch his toes unmercifully. At the moment, I feel on top of the world for getting some brownie-points for good momming.

We also know where we can go to buy another pair of shoes when he outgrows these and goes to [gasp!] size 17.

Nunc Dimittis

Because we don't have distribution hymns, during communion distribution yesterday I was praying through several of the hymns in the Advent section. When the last table was finished, my hymnal was still open to Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending. So my mind was still caught up in the words:

Every eye shall then behold Him
robed in glorious majesty.
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!

So, like two transparencies, one on top of one another, Simeon's song was added to the newer hymn:

For my eyes have seen Thy salvation
which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.

My eyes have seen "those dear tokens of His passion" in the Supper and will see them in fullness at the second coming.

And He has prepared that suffering, that cross, that passion, those scars "before the face of all people," or according to the other set of words, "every eye shall then behold Him."

We believe in Scripture interprets Scripture. But Scripture also interprets hymns. And sometimes it even happens that hymns illuminate parts of Scripture.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


There were three local stations that I could patronize that sold real, non-ethanol gas. Two of them switched over to the corn-stuff in the last couple of weeks. Now I must fill the tank every single time I'm near the one remaining Real-Gas gas station, even if I only need a couple of gallons.

Last week, I pulled into one of the three stations, had my credit card in the machine, had the gas cap unscrewed, and already was putting the nozzle into the tank, when I saw the sticker by the button for 87-octane: "May contain up to 10% ethanol." Argh! What to do; what to do? So I went ahead and pumped the gas. "How much difference could it make?" I thought. After all, I only needed 1/4 tank. So I drove for a week with 3/4 of my gas being real, and 1/4 being corn.

Today I filled up. I've been getting 28 miles to the gallon. Today I computed that I got 25 mpg since my ethanol-laced fill-up. That's a 10% decrease in mileage.

Now, lets' think about this. Ten percent (or less) of my fuel purchase last week was ethanol. That means the corn was only 2-3% of what was in my tank. However, I got 10% worse mileage.

Good grief! If the corn were simple FILLER, my mileage would've been 3% worse. But it was 10% worse. It's like that corn-stuff handicapped my Real Gas.

And they're trying to tell us ethanol is good for the environment? We have to use the same amount of Real Gas (or more) to get to where we're driving. But we get to pay more for it because it's been "thinned down" by the ethanol mixed in. Seems to me that anybody who wants to be green would be running away from ethanol as fast as possible. And so would anybody who's not particularly green, but who prefers to keep as much cash as possible available for expenses more interesting than gasoline.