Saturday, September 06, 2008

Too Many Kids

And here's one reason why big families are great:

... enough people to play Apples to Apples with!

Palin in Cedarburg

I wanted to go, but we didn't. The weather had been rainy, and it was cool, and Maggie tends to get sick easily, and Nathan is still recuperating from pneumonia. But look what happened! Good for them! Especially in light of the new level of scummy lies about Palin. (C'mon, really? She banned books? Back when her eldest was only 7? What kind of power did she have to ban books? But hey, if they're right, and she not only had the power, but can also see into the future, that might be handy in public office, and surely we ought to elect her!)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Voice Strain

I went to two services on Sunday. We went to a Labor Day party with friends on Monday -- lots of chatting. Started reading aloud another book to the kids -- one of those things we should be doing more of for school, doncha know. Choir on Wednesday night after church. Katie and Nathan arrived yesterday. They're here for three days, and I'm having altogether too much fun visiting with them. I'm planning to take a couple of kids to go visit my folks next week, which is going to mean another lovely time of chatting with loved ones. Wednesday is supposed to be a beach day with the homeschoolers, and I am looking forward to chatting with Erin and others. Wednesday night is choir again. Then I've got two weeks before the heavy-duty talk-TALK-talk of the weekend we girls go to Ft Wayne for a shower.

I can't believe what's going on with my voice. I've been trying to go easy on my voice since that year-long bout of laryngitis about 7 years ago. I fool myself into believing that I'm doing okay, that I'm coping, that I'm managing, that my voice isn't as bad as it was, that I've recuperated. Then along comes a week like this, and I see the weakness. I'm wondering if I'm even going to be able to stay in choir. I'm wondering how I'm going to delve into the teaching [new subjects] that I'm longing to start with Andrew and with Maggie. I keep telling myself that I'm using my voice a lot and that this is unusual, on top of its being allergy season.

Having my voice failing is so different from the aging that I encounter in my vision or in my strength or in the length of time it takes to heal from an injury or an illness. A failing voice handicaps me in so many areas that touch right at the heart of who I am and what I do.


Nathan is still looking, but has a good lead for a one-year job at sem (for the next school year while he is on leave from classes).

Philip's temp job ended this week, and he's looking again.

Paul found two work-study jobs. One is working to help tape a daily broadcast for the campus cable-tv channel. The other is working as a research assistant to one of the history profs -- something that he's really excited about, and was supposed to be a job that went to an upperclassman.

Gary had his six-month review at work and got very nice feedback from his boss. He earned a raise: a bigger percentage raise than he ever got before in all his life, and also a bigger dollar-amount than he ever got for a raise before.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Levi Johnston

Been running errands this morning, thus the radio has been on, thus I've been hearing what's going on "out there" in the world.

I am SO not upset about the "scandal" of Bristol Palin being pregnant. I think few Republicans are. It's just the media trying to rile us up. And it ain't working. (By the way, I think this week journalists have probably beaten out the stereotypical used-car salesman and ambulance-chasing lawyers as the lowest of the low, with the least credibility and respect of any profession in our country.) Okay, so the kids committed a sin. But really, now, what's the likelihood that these journalists who are throwing stones have been entirely free of fornication throughout their own lives? Like, fat chance!

So, the big scuttlebutt is that Levi is going to be at the convention tonight with Governor Palin's family. Everybody's talking about whether this was a good plan or a bad plan. Well, good grief -- this is obvious! Bristol is getting trashed in an unprecendented way. She needs her man. And is he hiding from the media? Is he hunkered down, out of the eye of the cameras, leaving her out there with only mom & dad for support? No. He's there too, holding his sweetheart's hand, standing there with her, supporting his wife-to-be when she needs him the most. None of us know this young man. But if his being there as part of the family tonight is any indication of the rest of his character, then I think Bristol has found herself a real winner of a man.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Convention Speeches Tonight

Dang it. There for a while they (particularly Fred Thompson) almost had me starting to like John McCain. Yup, the same John McCain whose name is attached to McCain-Feingold, something I still have a hard time forgiving. And then along comes Lieberman, reminding us that McCain is one of the Republicans that doesn't fit the Republican mold but is much more like a Democrat. Oy!

Exodus 32:32

The people built a golden calf and worshiped it. God was angry. He threatened to wipe 'em out. This incited Moses to claim the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- promises of mercy and grace to all nations, sent through the sons/Son of the patriarchs.

So after that interchange, Moses goes down the mountain. He sees what the people are doing. And when Moses sees, he gets as ticked as God was. Then comes the punishment: "drink your god" and all the killing and bloodshed. Then Moses says he'll go back up the mountain: "Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." Like Pastor said during matins this morning, of course Moses can't; he'll learn that.

But this is what happens when he goes back to the top of Sinai to meet with God:
"Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin -- but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."

That never made sense to me. What good is it going to do the people for God to kill Moses? What good will it do Moses? I always used to think that it was like what Paul said (Romans 9:3) about yearning so much for his people's salvation that he would almost wish that he could trade places with them. Except both Paul and Moses knew that taking God's wrath would not get their people off the hook. And God goes on to explain that punishment will be for the sins you have committed yourself.

So what's the point of Moses' statement in verse 32? Did he not understand that he couldn't take the Israelites' punishment for them? And then today I had a thought.

Maybe Moses is saying, "If you are not a God who forgives, then I really don't want to have anything to do with You. And you might just as well blot me out of Your book right now, because I'm never gonna stay in that book anyway if You are a vengeful God who does not forgive sin."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bike Training

When a young mom takes her toddlers and pre-schoolers for a walk, the mom does not get exercise. She is taking the kids on a walk for the good of the children -- their fresh air and exercise and intellectual stimulation.

When an older mom takes her 13-yr-old kid on a daily bike ride, that likewise is not going to do any good for the mother's exercise and health. It is a time for the child to be out, getting fresh air and sun and exercise, and learning to transport herself from one place to another.

When I was learning to ride a 10-speed bike, I lived in the flatlands of Illinois. There wasn't really a need for different gears on my bike. But it seemed easy enough to learn to operate them: when it was too hard to pedal, simply lower the gear. When I explained this to Maggie, we thought she understood. But as we rode back and forth to chapel this week, it became clear that she didn't really understand. When I told her to "lower the gear" she didn't know if that meant going to a bigger or littler number. So all week I hollered at her as we were going up the hill, "Go down a number,... go down to #5 now, ... down another number," and then repeat the instructions in reverse when we got to the top of the hill.

I'm also seeing that bicyclists who do not drive cars/trucks need a lot more instruction in defensive driving/biking and in rules of the road -- especially when the bicyclist isn't yet old enough to anticipate possible problems arising (like a vehicle coming around a blind corner) and how to respond. I'm going on the theory that riding beside Maggie and repeatedly telling her what to do and how to do it will "teach" her --if not how to be careful on her own-- at least how to follow instructions.

At least she has learned this week (I think!) which corners and which directions to turn so as to find her way home from church or the library.

Accepting Mediocrity

A friend of mine wrote recently about Excellence in Mediocrity. I agree so heartily with what he said about how we idolize ourselves and our hard work, and how we always want to be The Best. I agree too with his assessment that mediocrity which flows from laziness is just not okay.

As I mused on what he wrote, however, it struck me that it's not only "average ability" that can cause mediocrity in spite of a person's working hard at what he does. Sometimes it's the great number of responsibilities. I mean, a person can only do so much. When he is trying to be a good husband, a faithful father, a son who honors his parents, a decent neighbor, and a hard-working employee, he may not be able to do an exemplary job at any of those things ... even if he theoretically could
if he had fewer people to love.

There is no "solution" to this other than do what you've been called to do in whatever way you can do it. Somebody will always be telling you that you're not doing it well enough. Most people in this society think that kids should have the priority, so whatever you have to ignore for the sake of giving your kids The Best should be ignored. (Hey, I'm not saying I agree with it, but that's the popular wisdom out there.) Some people will tell us that interacting with our non-Christian neighbors should be a priority so that we can "witness to them." Other people will encourage us to put our paid-employment as top priority. And others will say that our marriage should be the focus of our time and attention.

When you have people in your life to love, it's sad to recognize that you are unable to give each and every one of them the time and attention you wish to lavish on them. So we do what we can, and fail. And then we thank and praise God that we have so many loved ones that are still here on earth for us to spend time on! And we remember that God uses our weakness and inadequacies to do what HE wants to do in our loved ones' lives. And most importantly, when we still feel our failings for how we can't do it all, we go back to what Pr Stuckwisch was talking about as the only real solution: that excellence is found in what Jesus does for me, what He gives to me, and not in my response or in my love for others.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I am married to SUCH a smart guy. When we were living at the parsonage, and there were problems that the trustees couldn't fix, Gary would find ways to resolve a problem. He figured out mistakes made in the past, and fixed them. Sometimes he made repairs that were done wrong by the person who did it the first time.

And now at the new house we have/had this mess where the swimming pool used to be. There were mistakes made in building, and he's figured out how to fix those mistakes without trashing the whole project and starting from scratch. He's filled in the mega-deep hole that was the diving area in the pool. He's figured out how to refurbish the deck that was not kept up properly. And it looks so NICE. Now, I cannot believe how humongous this deck is. But it's what's there, and it would take a whole lot more work (and even a whole lot more money) to shrink the size of the deck, so we're gonna have us one humongous deck for many a year to come. :-)

Y'know how the skeleton of a house always goes up SO fast? You can't believe how fast that building goes up. When the construction crew gets to putting in baseboards and light-switches, the speed of the progress seems to slow down considerably. Well, the deck seems to be the reverse of that. Right now (not unlike my housecleaning yesterday, where the slow part was the decision-making at the start of the task), Gary's gotten himself past the pokey parts of the job and is just burning through his job of piecing things back together. Every day when I go out back to hang laundry, I see what he accomplished the preceding evening, and am amazed that anybody who spent his study time with theology and educational methods and Greek has managed to get so good with building and working with his hands and problem-solving.

This afternoon we sealed the new lumber that replaced rotted boards. Assuming the weather holds up, he may only need another week or two to finish the project. Then it will be on to making raised beds for gardening, as well as obtaining topsoil (for where the pool used to be) and planting grass seed. And Gary even had some really cool ideas about the garden beds that will recycle used lumber to save money, terrace the spots where the pool was cut down into the hill in back of the house, and look really classy and artistic as well as being practical. Wow!

Blog Visitors

It's funny. I write this thing primarily for the purpose of keeping in contact with family members and dear friends, as well as for the entirely selfish purpose of remembering (and thinking through) some matters regarding theology and homeschooling and other topics. But every now and then, I write something that MANY complete strangers find interesting. Over the last couple of months, anywhere from 10-20% of my blog-hits per day have been about cleaning stove-tops, cleaning white-boards, making and bottling kombucha, making grape jam, wart removal, eliminating cigarette-smoke smell, exercises for a collapsed lung, and a variety of recipes (particularly the sugarless banana cookies and the cowboy soup).

By Grace I'm Saved

The distribution hymn this morning was LSB 566 (aka TLH 373). Kneeling at the altar rail this morning, the words being sung were some of the loveliest in the whole hymn:
For though I know my heart's condition,
I also know my Savior's voice.

And what was my Savior's audible voice saying, right at that very moment, to ME? "The body of Christ, given for you."

How sweet is that?!!