Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cherish Your Pastor

Tell him "thank you." Pray for him. And listen when he talks.

A living wage is nice. Sharing produce from your garden or meat from your butchering is helpful. Cards on the anniversary of his ordination (or his arrival at your congregation) and Christmas gifts are nice too. But ultimately those things are not the "one thing needful."

What your pastor needs even more than your material support is your EARS. He can live with a miniscule salary if necessary. He can live just fine without the cards of thanks or the anniversary gifts (although those things may very well be an outward indication of a person who was receptive ears). Be there when he preaches -- Sunday and midweek. Come willingly to Bible class. Ask your pastor to give you Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus. Do not complain when he smites you with the Law, but say "amen" and thank him for that too. And then be there to receive more Jesus, more absolution, more forgiveness.

Your pastor can live without a lot of things. But he cannot remain a pastor without hearers. Maybe he should. Jeremiah did. Elijah did. But your pastor is weak too; he's human; he can only sacrifice so much.

And if you haven't lived in a parsonage, you cannot know how very much your desire to receive your pastor's word enables him to continue to sacrifice so that you might have it. Don't take his ministry for granted; if it is spurned, it may not always be there. The more you receive it now with joy and a thankful heart, the more likely that ministry of God's grace will continue to be there for you.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Penne Rosa

Oh dear. I have a problem. We ate leftovers and fruit and sandwiches about 2:30 when Paul got off work. I had no clue what we'd be doing for dinner when Gary got home, but I was doing fine, feeling full, and not particularly desirous of another meal.

Paul, however, had an idea. When Jane took us to Noodles last week, Paul had penne rosa. He liked it. He really liked it. Today he started his job at Noodles. (I'm so glad we went to Noodles last week. That's how come we knew they were hiring. So multi-thanks to Jane!) Paul says he had penna rosa and stroganoff "under his nose" all day. Apparently those are two of the most popular dishes ... and I can see why! Paul thought we should whip up some penne rosa for supper. So he googled a few recipes, and we combined the ideas therein, and this is what we threw together ... and what we ate FAR too much of!! And that's my problem: I am totally stuffed.

Penne Rosa

Set pasta water to heat to a boil. Meanwhile,

1 onion, chopped
8-10 oz raw chicken, chopped into bite-size pieces
in a little olive oil
until onion begins to soften
and chicken is only slightly pink.

Add 4 small zucchini, chopped (about 16-20 oz)
Saute 3-5 minutes longer.

Add 1 lb of frozen chopped spinach.
Saute a couple of minutes longer.

15 oz jar of garlic alfredo sauce
26 oz jar of spaghetti sauce
1 pint of cottage cheese

Water should be boiling now.
Add 1 tsp of salt and
1 tsp of red pepper flakes to water.
Boil 2# of penne noodles.

Serve sauce over drained noodles.
Try not to hurt each other as you're fighting over who gets the leftovers.

Cost was about $11-12. Served 6 of us with leftovers, so it's probably 10-12 normal servings. It doesn't look real pretty but it tastes awesome.

Freddy on Tape

We started reading another Freddy book recently. (Reading aloud good children's literature is one of my best defenses against depression. When the kids are all grown up, I think I'm going to have to volunteer in the schools, just so I can find somebody to read to!) Maggie wanted more Freddy than my feeble voice can provide, so she got an audio book and is eating it up.

It just crossed my mind. One of the manifestations of her vcfs is central auditory processing problems. She doesn't quite hear correctly. It's almost like she hears things backwards sometimes, and gets very easily confused with words like they're puzzle pieces strewn around. In fact, listening to books read aloud, or interpreting oral instructions, is supposed to be rather difficult for vcfs kids. And yet, Maggie LOVES listening to audio books over and over and over. She's going to completely wear out some Harry Potter audio books. In spite of the CAPD, she loves listening to the books. It's certainly easier for her than reading them to herself (something that she can do but doesn't enjoy very much, but which the "experts" said she'd never do).

The airwaves in this house are near-constantly filled with the sounds of Jim Dale reading about Harry and Ron and Hermione, or the sounds of Stockard Channing reading about Ramona and Beezus. It's nice to branch out to another series (although the reader of Freddy is not phenomenal as are the two previously mentioned readers). But for the mother of a vcfs kid, there's something to be pondered here about what's being learned from all this repetition of audio books, and what it might be a sign of.

Oh, by the way, if you have kids and you haven't discovered Walter Brooks's Freddy books, you need to find out about them. I'd never heard of them until Katie spent the summer at the Scotts' home, and they informed us of a Not-To-Be-Missed series. Freddy is definitely some of the best children's fiction available!

No Stress

Andrew and I briefly tooled around the neighborhood -- not taking out any mailboxes -- yesterday afternoon. Today while the clothes were at the laundromat, we went in circles around the quiet neighborhood near church, in a downpour no less. I did the driving on the busy roads between home and the laundromat and church. But as we approached home with our baskets of clean clothes, I realized that I was not stressed. Not at all! I'd just spent 20-25 minutes in the car with a brand spankin' new driver, and there was no stress.

Andrew suggested that this is a sad commentary on just how stressful life is for me these days, that teaching driving is SO easy compared to the other four times I've done it.

I prefer to think that this is a happy commentary on what a good driver Andrew is. (No offense, R, Ph, K, P. It's just that he's got a different environment to do his initial driving in -- at 20 mph instead of 45 like y'all did.)

Too Much Computer

With moving there has been so much need to spend time sitting at the computer, reading. And that seems to draw a person away from Real Life and be kinda sorta depressing (in spite of the fact that I enjoy the computer time). There's setting up online accounts for banking and mortgage. There's finding new stores and directions to them. There's hunting up information for drivers ed and making appointments online for behind-the-wheel. There's all the research and study to learn how to fix the sump-pump discharge (and which fixes to avoid because of freezing temps in winter), and how to fix the pool, and how to fix the fridge and the stove and the water heater and all the other things that have been needing repairs over the last several months. There's researching water softener and water heater possibilities. I probably ought to ban myself from the computer for a few weeks, but then how would I get the information to do what needs done around here? The big problem is that self control seems to be the best answer to computer time ... and I know how that tends to go.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Polar Bears

Somebody brought a picture to Bible class this morning. Before prayers, it was passed around with the "explanation" that it was a scene deleted from Al Gore's movie. If you want a giggle, it's worth clicking on the link!

And do you remember the picture of the soldiers asking Sen Kerry for "help"? Well, check out a photo of needy polar bears (about 1/3 of the way down the page).

President Bush

Although I am not happy with the level of socialism promised to us at the 2004 Republican Convention (and too much of which has been enacted), there is one very good thing about our President. In the last 6+ years there have been no more terrorist attacks within our borders. And that's something that couldn't have been achieved by his opponent. Will we have the same level of security after November?

Family News

Paul starts a job tomorrow at Noodles & Co.

Andrew got his permit this afternoon and is ready to try driving around the block.


Between using our soil to grow ethanol and drought/war conditions in parts of the world, the price of food is going up. (Oh! You may have noticed that??) Some stores are now beginning to ration rice. Now I'm pondering what the neighbors would think if I grew wheat instead of grass. And would I know how to harvest and thresh it if I did?

Ethanol to prevent global warming -- when we're having news reports of an impending ice age. (Good grief! If that's true, we're just making things WORSE with the whole "fight global warming" trend!) Ethanol running up the cost of groceries here and causing starvation in poorer nations. WHY is it so hard for politicians to stand up for what's right and let the oil companies start drilling for all that oil in Alaska and North Dakota and the Gulf??

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What Is a Cow?

Andrew reported on his drivers ed class: the kids are supposed to remind their instructor, when they first go out driving, that he is supposed to show them a cow.

You see, people need to know what cattle are, so that they can recognize a cattle crossing. One of the students in the class reminded Mr Fischer that, uhhhh...., they live in Wisconsin [hello!!!] and they know what cows look like [duh!!!]. Mr Fischer agreed, but said that the government does not recognize that the kids know what a cow looks like, and it is incumbent upon him to teach them. So he will comply with the government's rule. But there are important things to teach a kid in drivers ed: braking, turning, driving defensively, checking your mirrors, etc. With all those silly distractions, the teacher isn't sure he can remember to point out cows. So he told the kids to be sure to remind him. Wouldn't want to neglect government regulations, now, would we?

I think the ideal response from the kids would be to get out in the country (after their first lesson or two of driving around and around and around a city block) and point to a cow and say, "Look, teacher, a camel!" or "Oh, Mr Fischer, there's an elephant!" And then he can TEACH them, "No, dear student with a head full of mush, that is a COW."

Just think. The same government is in charge of the entire public-education system. Makes ya wonder....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


When we bought the house, we were given the option of buying insurance that would be essentially a home warranty. Because so many things had just been repaired and so many appliances were new, because the house was in such good shape, we figured we'd save several hundred dollars by not getting the insurance.

Bad move.
Lesson learned: No matter how great the house appears to be, ALWAYS get the warranty!

(In February we learned how to fix a stove. In April we have to learn how to fix a refrigerator.)

Nine and Ten

I always wondered why the differentiation between the ninth and tenth commandments. Why not just "You shall not covet"? Pastor explained last week that the ninth commandment covers your neighbor's stuff, and the tenth commandments covers the things that can have loyalty. Your neighbor's dog or your neighbor's wife loves your neighbor, but your neighbor's car does not love him. Once he explained it, it seemed like such an obvious distinction.

Fashion and Modesty

Okay, I'm standin' in the check-out line at the grocery store a few minutes ago. You know what's on the covers of those magazines: "bedroom" advice (and I don't mean about matching your curtains to your throw-pillows), and women in low-cut slinky dresses and too much make-up, and aliens impregnating earth-women, and everybody's scandal. So my eyes are scanning the covers, and [shock of shocks!] I see a pretty dress. I need a winter dress and haven't been able to find anything; for two years I've been trying to convince myself to find time to sew a nice warm long-sleeved pretty winter dress. And there, smack-dab on the cover of a magazine in the check-out line (!) was a picture of a pretty dress. My eyes scanned further: it was People magazine. My eyes scanned further: it was about the polygamist cult in Texas.

Does that say something frumpy about me that I like that dress?
Or does that say something about how far society has slid?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ahhhhhh! Woodmans!

I guess this is what you call real customer loyalty: I am so happy to have gone grocery shopping today.

I love Woodmans!
I love Woodmans!
I love Woodmans!

(Laura, it was only 12 minutes from when I waved at Mt Zion as I drove past until I took the keys out of the ignition in the parking lot of Woodmans.)

Does this show how much a creature of habit I am? Or how unsettling moving is to me? Or is everybody like this? It just felt so soothing and comforting to be in a place where I knew where the food was and didn't have to hunt the aisles, where I recognized the little signs on the check-out screen, where I didn't have to stand and read labels and figure prices because I knew which brand and which size was the good deal. And I even saw familiar faces, with some of the folks from the Janesville store over here helping with the opening of the Oak Creek store. Oh! And the prices! At the moment, I no longer have this dread that we'll be lucky to see meat once a week for the next few years ... because I have a Woodmans to shop at! Not close, but do-able. And the bananas are 37 cents instead of 57. And the sausage is 89 cents instead of $2.59. And the mangoes are 50 cents instead of being a humongo "sale" item for "only" a dollar.

And joy of joys, they want to open a store in Menomonee Falls. Of course, that's in the distant future since they haven't found a suitable location yet, and they usually open stores at the rate of one every 30 months. But still, I've been asking at the main office about Waukesha or Pewaukee or the Falls, and I saw today on a news release that those cities are high on the priority list. Yeeehaw!

Rachel and Laura -- go down 94 past the airport. East on Rawson, aka County BB. Right/south at the light for Howell. Go a little bit past the light at Drexel, and it's on your right. South-side door is the 24-hour entrance.

This morning's grocery shopping was a little oasis of the familiar in a sea of newness, and it's wonnnnderful.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Today's Voters Meeting

The congregation agreed to give Gary a peaceful release from his call as pastor. Next Sunday is his last Sunday there. They will pay him for May because he has not taken his 2007 or 2008 vacation time. They agreed to swap us our stove for their fridge -- because we can't use a propane stove here, and they could use a spare, and we need more fridge space at the new house. So that was nice.

Gary said there were three woman at church who expressed their sorrow to be losing him.

The circuit counselor used to be pastor at Triune. So when the parsonage problems (particularly the serious flooding of the last few weeks) were raised at the voters meeting today, the circuit counselor could verify that there were mold and mildew problems and flooding in the basement way back when he was their pastor 25 years ago. In other words, it's not our family's fault that there are serious flaws in the parsonage. I'm glad the CC knew what it was like to live there and could thus deflect accusations of our "mistreating" the house.

We were told they do not have the money to pay April and May's salary as well as the last nine months of mileage reimbursement right now. They may have to pick away slowly at paying those obligations to us. I'm dumbfounded. Between Gary's pay-cuts and their not being responsible for health insurance premiums any more, they spent $5800 less for Jan-Apr this year than they spent last year. And yet they still don't have the money to pay 2007's mileage reimbursement. Where would the congregation be financially if they were still trying to support a full-time pastor???

Pool Decision

It's going to have to go. The costs is just too high for us to get it up and running after the harsh winter. There is a lot of work ahead of us, removing and moving fencing, dismantling and disposing of the pool, doing something with the landscaping to fill in the hole, and changing the deck. Sorry to those of you who were looking forward to bringing the kids to play in the water!

"Honor Bound" at Gitmo

I seldom follow links because I've got enough to do without reading all the interesting articles available online, distracting me from my work. But Fay (a mother of soldiers) told us Loopers about a story in Sports Unlimited about the most exclusive golf club in the world: Guantanamo Bay. The story tells about the camp, the golf course, and the soldiers, and it is worth a read!

I saw the ritual repeated no fewer than 50 times. "Honor bound, sir." "Honor bound." I felt proud of my country, and ashamed of what some have said about the troops at Guantanamo Bay.