Saturday, January 12, 2008

Blonde Joke

Homer walked into a sports bar around 9:58 pm. He sat down next to a blonde at the bar and stared up at the TV. The 10:00 pm news was now on. The news crew was covering a story of a man on a ledge of a tall building preparing to jump.

The blonde looked at Homer and said, "Do you think he'll jump?"

Homer replied, "You know, I bet he'll jump."

The blonde said, "Well, I bet he won't."

Homer placed a $20 bill on the bar and said, "You're on."

Just as the blonde placed her money on the bar, the guy did a swan dive off of the building, falling to his death. The blonde was very upset and handed $20 to Homer saying, "Fair's fair, here's your money."

Homer replied, "I can't take your money, I saw this earlier on the 5 o'clock news and knew he would jump."

The blonde replied, "I saw it too, but I didn't think he'd do it again."

Homer took the money.

This came from the Backwoods Home Irreverent Joke page. You gotta check out the one on the pet fish that was in the same issue.

New Heater

Someone decided to donate a pellet burner to church for use in the parsonage. When we found out how big this thing was, I got busy cleaning and decluttering the basement, as the heater and the fuel would take up about 1/3 of the space of a bedroom.

Problem is, nobody took into consideration that we have a crawl space under part of the house. If this new heater is supposed to heat the basement so as to reduce propane use in the furnace, what happens to the unheated crawl space (where there are WATER pipes) when the furnace is running so much less? Someone was supposed to have been here 4 weeks ago to evaluate that.

I never know where things stand around here. Did they give up on it? Do I have to continue the decluttering and basement-rearranging? Will the heater be arriving in March or in two days or in 2017?

No News Yet

Rejoice, my heart, be glad and sing,
a cheerful trust maintain,
for God, the source of everything,
thy Portion shall remain.

He is thy Treasure, He thy Joy,
thy Life and Light and Lord,
thy Counselor when doubts annoy,
thy Shield and great Reward.

Why spend the day in blank despair,
in restless thought the night?
On thy Creator cast thy care.
He makes thy burdens light.

(Why did they so often leave out such important stanzas when they put LSB together?)

Still no news about a job/income for Gary.
Maybe next week?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Changes Coming?

There are times when you know everything could be different in 8 hours. Sometimes it's inconsequential, like when I was going to see Lord of the Rings or Passion for the first time, knowing that those movies would forever change the mental images I carry in my head for those stories. Usually when there's something monumental coming, you don't know that it's coming (like a car accident), or precisely when it's arriving (like motherhood). Vicarage placements and call day at sem have that surreal feeling that something big is coming, and it could change everything.

Gary headed off to town a little while ago for job interviews. Someone familiar with the company suggested yesterday that, after all the waiting and the delays of the past months, we ought not be surprised if they offer him a job and tell him to show up Monday morning to start. Whether they tell him today "We're not interested" or "Show up for orientation on Monday," it will mean huge things for our family either way. I keep thinking of ALL the little things that will be impacted by Gary's having a full-time secular job. Not the biggies. But that I'll be driving the van instead of the car. That it's going to change dinner-time. That I'm going to have quite the job to get veggies into these people if I'm not setting a steaming bowlful on the table but packing it into a brown-bag. That bed-time is going to have to be much earlier. Things like that.

Huckabee and Paul

Hat-tip to Kristi for the link to a Mary Pride article on what's wrong with Huckabee and why he is NOT a good candidate for homeschoolers.

The interesting part is that Mrs Pride extols Ron Paul's position toward homeschoolers: tax credits and government favors to guarantee certain treatment of homeschoolers by others. Homeschoolers are in big trouble when outspoken homeschool advocates are in favor of getting "help" from the government. Government "help" always always always always always comes with strings attached. Always, not sometimes. If the government is going to "help" homeschoolers, the government will be sticking their nose into our daily life and schedule and curriculum and making sure that we're "bona fide homeschoolers" and all sorts of other interference.

I don't want government "help."
I don't want Ron Paul.
There ain't no such things as a free lunch.

Blog Award

Cheryl decided to give me the Daily Dose Award for being guilty of writing a blog that she has become addicted to and checks daily (thus the name of the award). Thank you, Cheryl, for your kind words and for your enjoyment of my musings.

I am not sure how or who to award in turn. Ever since I signed up for Google Reader, I no longer check blogs daily. Google's technology just says, "Hey, read what Laura wrote today" or "Check out this cute new picture of Izzy" or "Here's Stuckwisch's latest ruminations on Harry Potter." So I no longer have a "daily dose" that I have to go hunting for. Those things come find me. I am spoiled!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Food for Fasting

So the question of the afternoon is What do you serve at an Ash Wednesday Prayer Breakfast?

Our zone LWML used to have a prayer breakfast on Ash Wednesday, where the food was rolls and donuts and muffins and coffee and juices. Not exactly the makings of a self-denying fast.

However, in recent years the breakfast has gone fancy: delectable egg casseroles and meats and fruit salads and awesome sweets. The ladies of our church are supposed to host this year. Last time they served, they didn't make the eye-popping, belt-loosening breakfast, and there were complaints that just "coffee and donuts" isn't really a breakfast.

My theory is that our ladies should serve oatmeal, bagels (and even have butter with them), coffee, and juice. I'd do it myself, except that I have to go to work on Wednesday mornings. But it is an interesting question to ponder: what food does one SERVE for a fast-day?

Suggestions, anyone?

Love Comes Softly

We recently finished a series of movies [loosely] based on the books by Janette Oke. The stories are sweet and wholesome and have funny parts, set in the West during pioneer days. Love Comes Softly is the first book, where a woman ends up married to a man, intending only to be the nanny for several months until the wagon train comes through and she can head back East. Love's Enduring Promise is the story of the little girl in the first book, grown-up, having to choose between the dashing young man and the sturdy hard worker. Love's Long Journey followed up the story of that couple, and this time there were bad guys to face. Love's Abiding Joy continued their story, this time with an altogether different kind of bad guy plaguing their town. Love's Unending Legacy brings the heroine back to her hometown and brings new people into her family. The next installment of the series is due out late this spring.

Although the books were Christian "romance" novels, most of the Christianity was stripped from the movies, and they were left with the generic religion you'd expect from Michael Landon, Jr. (The third movie was the notable exception.) Nevertheless, anybody who enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie shows will probably enjoy these. I really liked Janette Oke books once upon a time, and that's what caught my interest with the movies. It turned out, though, that we liked the movies even more than I had anticipated. Maggie enjoyed watching them with us. Even the boys didn't leave the room while the rest of us watched, although in the interest of full disclosure, Andrew much preferred shows 3-4 where there were bad guys to defeat instead of being primarily stories about relationships and love.

I think Rachel and Mom are going to want to bother to put these on their movie lists. Anthea will not!

Scaer's "In Christ: Volume 2"

The book is published and ready for sale. It will be available next week in Fort Wayne at the symposium. Visit the CCA booth. (There will be a signing party at one point during the week, for those who'd like their copies autographed.)

I had assumed that, after the sermon volume, the rest of the volumes would be a little more "difficult," deeper theology, bigger words, longer sentences, etc. But this volume is definitely accessible to laymen. It is the "popular articles" of David Scaer: articles that have appeared in Lutheran Witness and For the Life of the World and Christianity Today, among others. There are [very readable] articles on abortion and the American Revolution and the end of the world and the centrality of the doctrine of justification. My only regret as I made one super-fast editing pass through this book last fall was that I couldn't lollygag and revel in it. Because it's good (!) and worth being soaked up instead of skimmed through.

Suggestion: this would make one doozy of a book for youth or adult Bible study or book-discussion club.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Can You See Works-Righteousness?

A few weeks ago in Bible class, we were on John 15 and talking about "bearing fruit." Nancy asked how/if works-righteousness looked different from good fruit. Pastor waited. Nobody answered. Finally I ventured that they looked the same... at precisely the same time Pastor got tired of waiting for an answer and told us that they don't look the same.

I figured that I don't know the motivation behind the person who brings me chicken soup when I'm sick. (Unless she happens to be paying me off just so she can laugh at the garlic taped to my neck. But that's not the normal circumstance.) I don't know the motivation behind the person who's running the fund-raiser at church, or the person who rakes leaves for an elderly neighbor. I don't know what's in their hearts.

And yet, the more I think of it, Pastor's right. We cannot tell from a kind act -- in and of itself -- about the motivation behind the act. But we can often, over a period of time, begin to tell from the person's words what he thinks about his good works. When a person is perpetually full of advice as to how I can be a better Christian (like he is), it gives evidence that he doesn't exactly think "all his righteousness is as filthy rags." When a person says, "Of course I don't think my good works merit me anything before God, but..." and then goes on to talk and talk and talk about behavior and acts that need to be done more, that gives testimony to what's in the heart too. Around some people, you get the impression that they're not even aware of the good works they do, and you're comfortable around them. Around others, you always get the impression that you should be "better" like they are, and there's always a sense of guilt. But not a sense of honest guilt; rather, a sense that the way out of the guilt is by trying harder and focusing more on my efforts to be good. And really, that's just being "turned inward" and using the law to justify oneself instead of fleeing to the gospel in the face of guilt.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Tree

ACK! I, a full-fledged and committed real-tree devotee, betrayed myself and spent real money on a fake tree. My brother and mom (committed converts to the fake trees) were giving me the speech this December about how easy the artificial trees are, how cheap they are, how safe they are, and how they don't drop needles. But I didn't buy it.

And then today, I walked into Shopko to see if there were any slippers to fit Paul. (You do realize, don't you, that buying slippers in January is as completely outlandish as trying to buy a swimsuit in late July or August? Yikes -- these stores....) And right in the entryway of Shopko were the last few remnants of their Christmas "gotta-go" stuff. A very nice $200 artificial fir, with lights attached, for $40. Given what our income is likely to be by next Christmas, and given that this tree costs what ONE real tree costs, I'd rather have the artificial tree than none at all.

So we are now the embarrassed guardians proud owners of a box of green fringe attached to some round boards.

IRS Joke

Dear Internal Revenue Service:
Enclosed you will find my 2005 tax return showing the I owe $3407 in taxes. Please note the attached article from the USA Today newspaper, dated November 12, wherein you will see the Pentagon is paying $171.50 per hammer and NASA has paid $600 per toilet seat. I am enclosing four toilet seats (valued at $2400) and six hammers (valued at $1029) which I secured at Home Depot, bringing my total remittance to $3429. Please apply the overpayment of $22 to the Presidential Election Fund as noted on my return. You can do this inexpensively by sending them one 1½" Phillips head screw (see aforementioned article for USA Today detailing how HUD pays $22 each for those screws). One screw is enclosed for your convenience.
It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.
A Satisfied Taxpayer

For more jokes from the Backwoods Home Magazine, see the July 2006 Irreverent Joke Page. I especially laughed over the one about the young minister doing the funeral (next-to-last one on the page).

Monday, January 07, 2008

We're Fine

We've been contacted twice in the last hour to see if we're okay, what with the weather today. Yes, we're fine. Several periods of 5-10 minutes of downpour, but that's the worst it got.


Poor kitty. Athena came in the other morning with blood dripping from her mouth. We assumed it was remnants of the most recent snack, although that would be unlike her to be such a messy eater. But Philip mentioned today that she'd lost some hair by her mouth. She must've had quite a run-in with something -- snack or interloper. Now we notice that she's suddenly covered with fleas too. Philip ran to the vet to get the super-duper flea killer stuff, and the price has doubled since we last had fleas around here. Oh well... better to pay it than to fool around with those blasted little critters.

Witchdoctor Garlic (aka: Less Sick)

I got up this morning and made my bed. First time in days! (Still not dressed, and may not bother going that far in recuperation-behavior today!)

Saturday night I put a thin layer of vaseline on the soles of my feet, and then sprinkled a thick layer of garlic powder on it, patted it into the vaseline, and put on socks. Sure enough, about ½ hour later, I could taste garlic in my mouth and smell it coming up through my lungs and sinuses. I needed garlic, and my stomach was in no condition for the amount of raw garlic I needed. So I tried the "external, through-the-soles-of-the-feet" way, and it worked. Not as well as eating the raw stuff, but certainly better than no garlic!

It also crossed my mind that external garlic might help my throat. Part of the reason for the incapacitating headaches of the last few days was dehydration. It was painful to swallow. So I sliced a nice round clove of raw garlic in half, and used a bandaid to tape the cut edges to the skin over my voicebox. That set my voice to improving faster than I dreamed possible. The biggest problem with the garlic there was removing the bandaids from the tender thin skin later. Ouch! (Hey, but less "ouch" than the sore throat!!)

Still sick, but at least I can get up and hobble around to do a load of laundry, take a rest, pay some bills, take a rest, do another load of laundry, take a rest, etc. My biggest problem now seems to be that I've injured a rib through the violent coughing. Can you bruise ribs or get hairline fractures that way? I'm remembering Maggie's collapsed lung last year because of the pain it gave her to take a full deep breath, and I keep telling myself that I do not want to go there. I gotta take those big breaths no matter how much my ribs hurt.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Job Possibilities

Gary heard back from the secular job he applied for. He's made it past the second round of interviews. Friday he goes in for another round of interviews. We have no idea if he will hear "yes" or "no" on Friday or if we'll have to wait another several weeks for a decision.

Thursday evening he also had a telephone interview with a congregation near Sheboygan. The call committee there held conversations with four men, half-hour each. The circuit counselor tells us that the congregation will probably issue a call in early February.


I forgot how much it stinks to be sick. Usually when something begins coming on, when I lose my voice, when I start the runny or stuffy nose, I do what you're supposed to do: plenty of liquids, lots of rest, vitamin C and garlic and a little echinacea. And that keeps me functional. So I knew I was in trouble when I realized I was going to be up all night on New Year's Eve after having begun to feel a smidge under-the-weather on Sunday. So far it's been three days of fever and lying around thinking of nothing but, "Oh, this hurts." A loving family has helped immensely. Gary (although he's still recuperating from sickness too) did my paper routes this weekend. Paul did the weekly grocery shopping and then made another trip when we realized the freezer was empty of bread, and I sure wasn't going to be making any anytime soon. Maggie and Andrew have been helpful go-fers. Andrew has done a significant amount of cooking. And Rachel spearheaded the taking down of the Christmas tree (while she was supposed to be here only to have fun and visit Anthea).