Saturday, February 02, 2008


Self-esteem has gotten a bad rap among conservatives. The term (as used in America today) has come to encapsulate the whole idea that people should "feel good about themselves" no matter what. Thus we have teachers who don't want to use red pens to mark up a kid's writing assignment because it might make little Joey feel bad about himself. We don't want to play any games where somebody might lose; think of the baseball games where the grown-ups forbid children from keeping score so that "there are no losers." (As IF the kids don't keep track of the score in their heads!)

Problem is,
that's not what self-esteem is really about.

Several years ago, I was preparing a lecture/workshop for the state homeschool conference on the topic of homeschooling preschoolers. Of course, every book you look at on the topic of Educating Young Children is primarily about self-esteem. But I was surprised by some of the research from the 60s when self-esteem first became a popular idea.

Self-esteem is not a simple "good feeling about yourself." Self-esteem is actually the recognition that hard work pays off. In other words, if you're struggling with math facts, self-esteem is the knowledge that studying and memorizing and practicing will help you learn your factoids well. If you work hard at doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, the reward is praise from Mom and a nice clean counter-top and non-sticky floor.

The original point of self-esteem was EFFORT PAYS OFF.

And the opposite of self-esteem is not "feeling bad about yourself." Actually, the opposite of self-esteem is knowing that no matter how hard you work, no matter how much effort you put in, no matter how many times you try, that you cannot change the outcome of something.

It's like the animals in psychological studies who were in cages and were given an electric shock or some other punishment every time they crossed over into the other half of the cage. Finally, when the shocks ended and the animal was free to go to the other half of the cage where the food dish was, the poor critter just stayed in the small portion of the cage, away from the food dish, because he knew it was useless to try to cross over that line. Even though he was safe, the dog had learned it was useless to try to improve his situation. THAT is what "poor self-esteem" is really about.

I don't know if anybody else cares about this. I just thought it was fascinating because some of what's said by some in the "self-esteem camp" seemed so obvious and real and sensible. But some of it was feel-good mumbo-jumbo gobbledygook. Thus I could never make sense in my mind of what was right and wrong about the concept of self-esteem. But finding out what self-esteem really is (and isn't) helped sort those things out in my mind.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Super Tuesday

There's not too much difference between McCain and Hillary on the issues.

As Belling pointed out today, a liberal Republican can be even more dangerous than a liberal Democrat. If Hillary is president, the Republicans will be trying to block her from accomplishing too much. But if McCain is president, many Republicans will support their president, and the Democrats will agree because ... well, ... because they already agree with McCain's stance on most issues. (I have long agreed with my friend Scott that there's not as much difference between the two major parties as they would like for us to believe there is.)

For those of you voting next Tuesday who are leery of Romney because of his religion, remember what Luther said about it being preferable to have a competent heathen ruling rather than an incompetent Christian. Tuesday isn't about picking a pastor, a husband, or a daddy. It's about choosing the government leader. And if there's going to be any real option in November (Scott's comments notwithstanding) then McCain will have to lose next week.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Liz and Jeff tagged me for a quick and easy meme. The instructions are to grab the nearest book, turn to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence, and post the next three sentences.

Well, the computer is next to the piano, so the nearest book is TLH. Page 123 is the start of the psalm section. And sentences 6-8 are
Why do the heathen rage and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us."

Let's tag..... hmmm, I can't remember who I haven't tagged for a while....
Scott, Muddy Boots, Paula, Kristi, and a certain Lutheran Woman,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lyin' Thermometer

Out here in the country, I seem to have developed a pretty good sense of temperature, usually being able to guess within 5-10° how warm it is. I began to get suspicious early in winter when I thought it felt like about -10° but the thermometer was telling me it was 5°. I figured it was just me feeling cold and old and decrepit and fussy. But it kept happening. And then I started to notice that it was always MUCH colder in town, where the bank has a time&temp sign flashing. Hmmm.

So today, when the lyin' piece o' metal is telling me it's 10°, and schools all over are shut down due to cold, I'm thinking, "What's have to say about this?" Sure enough, my thermometer can only operate accurately down to about 15-20°, and then it just feel toooo cold to move any further down the scale. No wonder our senses aren't matching up with the nice scientific measuring tool that we used to trust over & above our senses. Well, we've learned our lesson now.

The only trick is going to be to get the kids to trust their mom's senses instead of the nice scientific measuring tool. But, hey, I've got the computer reports to verify my analysis of how cold it is out there, and whether you need long johns and mittens.

Psalm 27:8

When You said, "Seek My face,"
my heart said to You,
"Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Hey, would you look at that!?! I always thought that the heart's response was pretty much an "Okie-dokie. I will." But there's more to it than that.

The heart's response is speaking back to God what He has first spoken to us. It's repeating His words back to Him.

Kinda says somethin' about the liturgy, eh?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fat Cat

We have always left a bowl of dry food out for the cats, available to eat as they needed. There's nothing canned. If they want "wet food," they gotta chase and capture their own.

Rosie Cotton, our kitten, is a pig. She is getting fat. We finally decided we need to put this cat on a diet. But how do you limit her access to the dry-food bowl without also removing it from Athena, who has the sense to eat the amount her body needs?

Katie feeds her cats twice a day. Okay, maybe we could try that. We'd just have to remember to pick up Athena's bowl and stick it in the cupboard whenever she walked away from her bowl, and set it out whenever she came looking for it again. Poor Rosie. She had a miserable day. We didn't know how much food was an appropriate amount, so a few times during the day we'd give her a tablespoon of kibble just to decrease her ravenous hunger. Then one time Athena left her bowl and we didn't put it away. Rosie snarfed it down, and then barfed it back up. Ah, shooooot, a cat being forced into anorexia. We decided maybe we need to feed her enough to keep her from that desperate a hunger! We'll have to keep working on this diet thing....

Whatever You Ask

Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you (John 16:23).

Loads of people will tell us that God will give us whatever we want: a nice house, a well-repaired van, good health, a happy family. But is that what this is about? A name-it-and-claim-it theology? A "prayer of Jabez" suggestion?

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple (Psalm 27:4).

If I desire ONE thing of the Lord (to know Him and be with Him) then "whatever I ask" will be that ONE thing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Look of Bread

Now and then we slash the top of the bread loaves after they're shaped into loaves and before the loaves rise. Why is it that that one little touch can make the bread LOOK so much more delicious??? It's the same dough. The same taste. But nevertheless, it looks more enticing.

No Repairman

Oh my goodness! I called the nice, trustworthy, capable repairman at the body shop where I had the van towed to. He's not there. The shop is closed until April 8. Now I need to find a different repairman and get the van re-towed. Gooooood grief!

Ungreen Environmentalists

My husband tells me that a bill was passed recently which will outlaw plastic shopping bags. (I don't remember if it's Wisconsin or national.) Stores will have to return to paper bags. Now, personally, I always ask for paper instead of plastic. But the plastic that I get from Target or Walmart (or from the grocery store for carrying a bloody piece of roast) is used to make my garbage bags. But in the name of protecting the environment, we're going to get rid of those. Nevertheless, people will still be lining their kitchen trash bins with plastic. But now we'll have to BUY it instead of reusing our shopping bags. And THIS is what's considered environmentally friendly???

Whatever happened to "Reduce, REUSE, Recycle"?

And on a totally different tack, whatever happened to the government letting businesses run their businesses instead of the socialistic thing about the government micromanaging them? Ah, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

And then there's all the environmental problems caused by the new-fangled lightbulbs that are being foisted upon us with the soon-to-be-outlawed incandescent bulbs. But, hey, those new lightbulbs are "green" no matter what damage they do to the environment or people's health, because the experts on global warming have assured us that the new lightbulbs are good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Grocery Store

For weeks I hadn't gone grocery shopping. I picked up a few things at a local store, and a few things at Aldi. Gary had done the grocery run once, and Paul had gone once. But I hadn't done the big once-a-week trip to MY store in what seemed like ages. I was feeling stressed about money, and the idea of spending $100 or more on groceries was unreasonably stressing me. (After all, is there anything more important to spend money on than your dinner?)

And then a week ago I went to Woodman's. There was something so comforting about walking through the aisles I knew, picking up the groceries that were essential to life, seeing people I knew, and just doing one of those routine chores. And when I went to Woodman's today, the same comfortable feeling overcame me.

I am a boring old putz who loves my routine!

Today's Elders Meeting

They didn't really decide anything. At last week's voters' meeting, the elders said they would be meeting this week to make some decisions (or recommendations) about what to pay the pastor now that he has a full-time job, and what to do about health insurance, and what to do about duties at church that he has previously handled himself (such as secretarial needs).

They did decide to cancel Lenten services, and to ask the circuit counselor to take the Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday services.

But anything that applies to us (such as pay level and parsonage concerns) was not decided. So we wait some more.

Car Insurance

I haven't reported the accident to the insurance company yet; they weren't open on the weekend. But we saw our insurance agent at church this morning. I was hoping to get an idea of which Blue Book value they use in determining whether a car is totaled or repairable: the trade-in value, the private-sale value, or [unlikely] the retail value. He didn't know. He said it would be decided by the appraiser. Oh well, I guess we just wait on that one then.

The big bummer was what he told us about the non-contact accident. Because the other driver was not hurt and his property was not damaged, his insurance company can simply ignore the accident. We said, "But the police report says he's at fault." Doesn't matter apparently. Since I didn't make contact with his vehicle, all the liability falls on me and my insurance company. Can you believe that??? I would've been better off financially had I just stayed in my lane, slowing as much as possible without losing control, and creamed him. I thought it was better to do less damage. But apparently I'll be punished for it, and get to pay the deductible myself.

Well, if I had stayed in my lane and hit the other vehicle, I suppose I would've done some real damage to my body in addition to the car.