Saturday, June 28, 2008


I love the sound when canning jars seal. Plink! I love the way the color of the jam turns from cloudy to ruby-red crystal when the sugar is added to the boiling fruit/sugar mix. I love making jelly. After purchasing frozen strawberries (instead of getting the ultra-premium taste that comes from picking your own from the berry patch) today I made 12 half-pints of jam and 7 12-ouncers. That ought to last these folks a little while.

Katie and Nathan arrived last night for a weekend visit. So did Paul's Rachel. It's been great to have them here! Today Rachel came to visit too. So did Laura and Ben. And this wonderful companionship and family-ness is why we looked for a house with a kitchen big enough for loads of people to hang out in together while work is being done!

Gary has made a lot of headway on the deck -- turning the worn and weathered boards over, getting the bottom sides (now the tops) of the planks sanded and re-placed, awaiting dry weather when we will be able to put down sealant.

Mosquitoes are unbelievable. I guess that comes with flooding.

We're in the process of getting a new computer. It's actually an "old" computer that is WAY newer than our old one. Nathan, the computer guru, set it up for us today, and did all the work of moving my bookmarks and installing programs and making it a painless transition for me (in other words, a barely noticeable change-over). He also let me know about some spyware that had slunk onto the old computer past the spy-bot. I had finally gotten caught up with the world's ways and started online banking, and now I think I'd better go and change all my passwords and user-names. Oh, gosh, it makes me nervous to even think about it. But I'm glad he caught it so that I don't continue on my merrily blind way of walking straight into identity theft or other scams. As for the new computer, the speed blows me away. Not too long after I started looking at gmail, Nathan asked if I liked the increased speed. And honestly, I hadn't noticed much improvement. But then later I moved to another program, and those fresh windows were popping up at a shocking speed! Wow, I'm going to get spoiled!

Stemms, Drivers, and Fischers for dinner tomorrow after church. Sounds like good times, lots of love, and lots of laughing!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Luke 15

The story tonight at VBS (also known as our "retreat on reconciliation") was the parable of the prodigal son. My favorite quote from Pastor this evening:

It's like there isn't a reprimand in the father anywhere to be found! Not when the son asks for the inheritance, not when he returns, and not when the older son complains at the end of the story. The father doesn't have a reprimand in his whole body.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Elephant's Child has a totally awesome quote from Walther about focusing on missions "versus" focusing on doctrine.


The nearby U-Pick farm has strawberries available. We've been out of strawberry jam for 5 months, and the natives are restless. (Oooooh, the abuse they endure, with the only jelly in the house being home-made grape that is completely awesome! My family is SO mistreated. My heart is bleeding for them.) We've been waiting for June, waiting for cheap strawberries instead of making the jam from frozen berries purchased at the store.

When I was trying to find out the cost of the berries, there were no prices listed on the farm's website. No prices listed on their signs by the road. But the website mentioned that they were "agritainment" for the whole family. There's a playground. There are animals. There are hay rides. There will be a corn maze. This made me nervous. This sounded pricey.

So today I wash the jelly jars. I gather the slave labor children and the buckets, and we head off to the farm. And I find U-Pick berries priced at $1.35/pound and the already-picked at $3.75/pound. YIKES. The regular price at Woodmans for frozen berries is $1.89/pound ... and you don't have to pick 'em in the hot sun. Or wash them and hull them. The price for frozen berries last time I was at Woodmans was only $1/pound.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to pay extra for buying local. Not when "local" means paying the premium for the farmy experience.

More incentive to get my own berries in the ground prior to next May!

Fetching Our Own Oil

From the Chicago Tribune: "Obama has said he opposes lifting the federal ban on offshore drilling. And on Friday he promised a moratorium on the practice. Now he will find out if the pain voters are feeling at the pump will be inflicted upon him for his position."

McCain still doesn't have the right position on drilling in Alaska or easing up restrictions on producing our own oil. But at least he's starting to talk about getting oil from the Gulf and temporarily reducing the enormous gasoline taxes. Now if only he could get 'em all to begin undoing the damaging demands for more and more ethanol.

From Symposium (4)

Bender's catechesis was entitled Cain and Abel and the "Murder of God." Call me biased, but I thought it was the best presentation of the symposium. There's too much to summarize it here. Besides, a lot of what was presented is already in the catechist volume of Old Testament Catechesis.

There was one thing I made particular note of from his presentation. Sinning is always self-serving. It is turned inward. It is designed to satisfy ME. The problem, though, is that sinning doesN'T satisfy. It cannot. Satisfaction and joy can come only through sacrificial love. (Maybe that's part of "being made in the image of God"?) We think, "I'll be happy if I..." have this, or do that, or whatever. But when we sin and get what we wanted, we are still unsatisfied.

(For some reason, this reminds me of the insatiable greed for Legos that I see in little boys, or for Barbie clothes that I see in little girls. Of course, these are shallow examples. And of course the Barbies and Legos are not sins. And of course it's easier to see this insatiability in children than it is in myself. Wait... did I get off topic?....)

In the topic of life issues, when we're talking about starving an aged or disabled person, or aborting a baby, these things promise ease to the people who remain. But these sins have results that were unexpected, and the sinner remains discontented, unhappy, and looking for bigger fixes of making his own comfort. The sin did not give what it promised. True joy comes only by giving and sacrificing.

From Symposium (3)

Piotr Malysz spoke on "Humanity in the Image of God." This was a good lecture. It was deep. I wanted sometimes to hit the "pause" button and think through what he was saying before he went on. But nevertheless, what he said was good stuff!

He started by pointing out that the 20th century proved more evil and more self-centered than any other era before. He pointed out that consumerism has taught us to find our uniqueness and our "self" in things. But we also have learned to treat relationships as disposably as we treat our things.

Pr Malysz said that we do not possess the image of God. The image of God is not a quality. It is not something we "understand." Rather, it is about BEING ... and about a relationship with Him and being connected to Him.

The fall into sin was, in part, when Adam and Eve strove to get the image of God ("you will be like God, knowing good and evil") as a quality, as something they could gain knowledge about. And in doing so, they traded the true image of God that they already had, and instead went after a false "image of God."

Sin isolates. Sin separates us from God. It separates us from the creation. It separates us from each other. When we sin, we violate someone's trust. Then we realize that others might do the same to us, violating our trust in them. To protect ourselves from being hurt or being betrayed, we withdraw from others and continue to further separate ourselves. (Hey, I realize now that this fits in well with our VBS theme of the week on reconciliation.)

We desire to be "like God" (as did Adam and Eve). But we imagine God to be powerful in a self-serving way. To be like Him [well, not really like Him, but like what we imagine Him to be], we try to control others. We desire to control people. We want to destroy things and wreck things. This is how we imagine God's "power" can be seen. But that's NOT what God's power is about.

God's power is seen in His loving sacrifice. Life is sacred because our dignity comes from God. The sanctity of life has nothing to do with OUR dignity or even the abilities that God gives us. OUR dignity is futile and fragile. But God sees us with the dignity that is His, the dignity imputed to us and given to us. We look like Him when we are mindful of that same dignity in others even though they be undignified and unworthy according to human standards, and when we sacrifice ourselves (that is, put ourselves out, or inconvenience ourselves) for their dignity (or life, or nurture, or needs).

Well, I'm afraid these rather disjointed comments don't come together too well from my jotted notes and scribbles. My notes were intended mostly to help jog my brain about what I heard. If there is anything wrong in what I wrote, it wasn't Pastor Malysz who was in error, but merely my misunderstanding of what he said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From Symposium (2)

Stem cell research was discussed last week at the catechetical symposium in Waukesha. There was one comment made in passing that I found quite interesting. There is apparently a theory that cancer is caused by adult stem cells run amok. Even when we're done being little embryos, everybody (babies and kids and adults) still have stem cells. Although the point of stem cells is that they are changeable, so that they can heal or repair parts of the body, there can be too much of a good thing. If these grow too fast and grow out of control, this may be the explanation for cancer.

Kinda makes you wonder about how the doctors and scientists would control the stem cells they use in cures so that cancer doesn't become as an intended consequence.

From Symposium (1)

One of the speakers pointed out that less than half of the doctors are actually in the American Medical Association. He suggested that this was due to its liberal stance on issues, thus setting the AMA in opposition to the position of many healers.

This speaker also suggested that having a living will or a "medical directive" is not as safe as having a "durable power of attorney" because you can't lay out directives ahead of time for all contingencies. Better to have someone making those decisions in the circumstances that actually occur in our lives.

Another speaker pointed out that "pregnancy" is defined differently. Some doctors will say that a particular birth-control measure prevents pregnancy and is not abortifacient because they define pregnancy as the time when the baby is implanted in the womb and not when the baby is conceived. Thus they can claim that a birth-control method does not interrupt pregnancy, although some of us can clearly see that it does. So it's important to find out what your doctor's definition of "pregnancy" is. (Gee! Who would've thought that would be a matter of dispute??)


Boy, I don't know how the milk situation got away from us. But this morning we had four gallons that were more than a week old, and it is just beginning to turn bad. Part of this is because I overestimated how much the company would drink last week. Part of this is because I forgot we weren't eating dinner at home this week, due to VBS suppers. Part of this is because the refrigerator was accidentally unplugged for about a day and a half, which means the milk is beginning to sour earlier than it should've.

So today we're all hyped up on calcium! I told the kids not to eat anything except the things which were nearing spoilage (milk and lettuce, primarily). Breakfast was milkshakes made of milk, strawberries left over from vacation, and bananas. Mid-morning snack was a big pitcher of cocoa. Lunch was Mexican corn chowder. And supper was custard pies. That took care of 2½ gallons. Another half gallon is being set out to make whey for recipes. That leaves only a gallon to drink (before it really sours) or turn into pancakes and muffins (after it sours).

I am soooo overloaded on milk (which, by the way, has a very different meaning today than it meant 13 years ago....).

Homeschool Stereotypes

Mandatory reading: Jane's You Don't Look Like a Homeschool Mom. (She wrote this in response to an article about how the stereotypical homeschooler is so different from the "normal" American that the rest of society feels threatened by those weirdo homeschoolers.)

On the one hand, I don't want to write any more in this post, because I really want people to go read at least Jane's musings, and preferably the op-ed piece too. But on the other hand, I want to chime in.

I remember the time I was chatting with somebody who was suggested as a possible substitute paper carrier. We needed subs for vacation, and I called the lady. During the conversation, she (who was fairly new to town) decided that we would be greeeeat people to get to know. After all, we were
a) a pastor's family,
b) a large family, and
c) homeschoolers.
And we all know what that means, don't we? And those were the kind of people she wanted for friends. Thing is, this woman didn't know who we really were; she just lumped us into her stereotype.

There was also the eye-opening story of what happened shortly after we met Jane's family. They'd been church-hunting for many months. Everything they found was happy-clappy. Then they came to visit Triune. The stayed for lunch. We loved them and they loved us. But more importantly, the kids made it clear to Mom and Dad that the church-hunting was done and over: they had found the place where they were staying! As Jane told the story, later that day she announced happily to a group of friends (mostly pagan) that they'd found a church-home. For the most part, these friends didn't really care about church or liturgy, but they cared about Jane, and they knew how important this was to her. So they were all ready to be thrilled for her. Until...

she mentioned that the pastor and his wife have six kids and they homeschool. Whoa; put the brakes on, Nelly! "Jane, are you SURE about this? Are you sure this is the kind of place you want to be?" And Jane's response was, "Oh, they're not like THAT!" So even among homeschoolers who are not part of the stereotype, we too are very aware of the stereotype. Good grief, even I am leery of pastors' wives who homeschool more than 4 kids. Some of them are wonderful. But the experiences of the past have convinced me to be cautious when I meet people whose basic situation in life is identical to mine.

And for some reason, that's just kinda sad.

Loosened Bonds

In Psalm 116 we pray:
O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.

Maybe you're like me, and go on reading the part of the psalm about thanksgiving, and thinking about how we are glad that He has freed us. But instead, stop and think about those lines right there for just a moment.

I am Your servant. I am God's slave. I am bound to Him. BUT "You have loosed my bonds." Does that make sense? We have been loosed. And yet we are His servants, His slaves. It almost sounds contradictory, until ...

a person knows whereof Paul speaks:
And having been set free from sin, you become slaves of righteousness.
And also:
Now having been set free from sin and having become slaves of God,
you have your fruit to holiness,
and the end, everlasting life.
(Romans 6)

A person might almost be tempted to think that the apostle knew the Old Testament and was expounding upon it. But if you thought that, you'd have to think the Old Testament was about the same God, the same promises, the same mercy, ... the same Jesus. :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Paul is supposed to turn in his immunization record to the college. He is also supposed to get an updated tetanus shot. After the reaction Maggie had to her last tetanus vaccine, we are very very leery of getting those again ... unless we end up putting ourselves in a situation (like overseas) where there might be a risk of contracting tetanus. So today we were doing some online research and discovered Vaccination Liberation. I do not agree with everything on their page, but they do have a lot of links to state laws, to exemption forms, and to reported complications from vaccines.

If a person were to click on their state abbreviation (oh, say, "Indiana," for example) there would be pertinent laws listed, as well as a model letter for a birth plan which includes avoidance of immediate vaccination for hepatitis, vitamin K shots, and silver nitrate in the baby's eyes. Although this website wouldn't have everything you need to know about the subject, it would at least prove a starting point.

Deck Work

It's very hard to stain the naked deck (where Gary just turned all the boards over because the top side was so very weather-worn) when the forecast tells us that it will rain daily or every other day. And even on the days it doesn't rain, the grass is drenched with dew each morning. Not good weather for staining a deck.

Somebody drove up slowly to our house today and snapped a picture. I don't like it that complete strangers are taking pictures of us. I would be really freaked out, but I'm trying to convince myself that it's just some realtor. I know when we were buying, our realtor could show us examples of similar-sized houses nearby that had sold, and what the prices were, so that we could evaluate property values and what to expect to pay. So maybe that's all this was. I hope. My mind can construct pretty scary scenarios out of strangers taking pictures of us....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Time-Saving on Paint Jobs

At the old house, I painted with a semi-gloss or something even more shiny than that. I wanted the walls to be washable. Granted, it made it harder to put on the next coat of paint because the walls had to be sanded or roughed-up or treated in some way so that the next coat of slicky paint wouldn't slide right off the undercoat of [older] slicky paint.

The new house has an "eggshell" finish which is not washable. Every time I hit a fly or smash a mosquito, there's a blood splat on the wall. Finger-marks don't wash off. Food splashes in the kitchen don't wash off. These walls are going to need to be painted a whole lot sooner than if they were washable. I hear frightening stories about normal people who paint the insides of their houses every 2-4 years; apparently that's just what you're supposed to do. Well, if I can paint with washable paint every 9-12 years, I'm saving time (and money) even if I have to spend twice as long on the paint job!

Imprecatory Psalms

I don't understand how we pray that the Lord smash our enemies when we know our own sin and that we were enemies of God but that He has been gracious to us. If we are the recipients of mercy, and if God's mercy has captured our hearts, and if God wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, wouldn't we desire the salvation of our enemies? Wouldn't we desire that they be turned and become recipients of grace -- they who are as undeserving as we are?

About a year ago, Pastor finally got it through my head that we can pray those psalms of judgment against the true enemies: the devil, the world, the demons, and our own sinful nature.

But when I was praying Psalm 109 yesterday, the psalmist didn't sound like he was talking about demonic forces being judged, but flesh-and-blood people. So I asked about it at the end of Bible class. Pastor didn't have enough time to give much answer, but one thing he said helped a little bit:
We don't pray those psalms out of vengeance nor out of a desire to get even or to "stick it to them." We pray them because God's law is true. We pray that God's judgment be meted out upon His enemies for the honor of God, not for satisfying our own sinful desire to hurt those who have hurt us.

Gotta think on that some more...

Maple Grove

Y'know what happens when you get a new septic system right when the "helicopters" are about done growing on the maples? The wind comes along and blows gazillions of helicopters into your freshly dug-up dirt. The rain comes along and waters them. And then you have a yard that it full full FULL of itty-bitty maple trees! It's so funny-looking in the backyard. The places where I seeded grass are growing nicely. But the places where the septic installer seeded were are a little sparser on grass. So there are places where we have more 3" trees than we have grass!