Saturday, December 06, 2008

Snow Piles

Two big snowfalls and one medium-sized snowfall, all this week. No wonder it seems like we haven't done anything but shovel for a long time. The thing that worries me is where the snow is going to go. It's the first week of December and these are the piles we currently have

We have been trying to throw the snow away from the edge of the driveway. We have been trying to push it further down the driveway before we clear it off, so that the piles in the corners don't get too high. But I keep thinking that I need to get out there, on the piles of snow, and start moving the piles more toward the middle of the yard. Cities have bulldozers and backhoes and dump trucks to move the snow out of town when there's no place else to put it. I have a shovel. I should start now, taking into account what's yet-to-come this winter. But after you shovel for hours to clear the driveway, it's easier to sit by the fire and watch tv and crash than it is to go out there and MOVE the piles of snow.

It's gonna be a long winter.

Anybody want to send some global warming to the piles of snow by my driveway?

Santa Punches Arius

December 6. The feast day of Nicholas, the bishop of Myra. Also known as St Nick's Day. Lots of Christians like to tell their children the true story of St Nick on this day. But the part of the story we just loved was told us by a friend from Rockford.

The [first] Council of Nicaea met in AD 325 to discuss the nature of the Son of God. Was Jesus of the same substance as the Father? Was He different? Was there a time when the Father existed but the Son didn't yet exist? Was Jesus divine? Exactly what is it that Christians confess about the Trinity and about the relationship of the persons within the Godhead?

The bishops cared about doctrine. They really cared. (We don't see that too often these days. We care more about not rocking the boat.) At one point in the debate, the heretic Arius could not be refrained from spouting his blasphemies. And Nicholas struck him. This was not okay with the other bishops. They didn't approve of hitting. So they kicked out the bishop from Myra. Legend has it that some of the Fathers received a vision that night which showed Nicholas to be in the right. So he was reinstated to his office and allowed back at the Council.

And through the Council, God gave us the Nicene Creed which confesses "I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made." But in the process of working out the Creed, Bishop Nicholas (aka St Nick, aka Santa) punched out Arius.

The fat guy in the red suit with the elves and reindeer doesn't have a story nearly as good as the real Nicholas.

Real men care about doctrine.
Real men defend true doctrine.
Santa was a real man!

Today's Laugh

If you don't find the following to be quite funny, you haven't raised kids yet or it's been so long that you forgot a lot of it in a haze of happy (and not altogether accurate) memories.

People are always on the lookout for a new diet. The trouble with most diets is that you don't get enough to eat (the starvation diet), you don't get enough variation (the liquid diet), or you go broke (the all-meat diet). Consequently, people tend to cheat on their diets or quit after three days. Well, now there's the new Toddler Miracle Diet. Over the years you may have noticed that most 1-year-olds are trim. Now the formula to their success is available to all in this new diet. You may want to consult your doctor before embarking on this diet, otherwise, you may wind
up with an appointment afterwards. Good luck!

Breakfast: One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly. Eat two bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor. Take one bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes.
Lunch: Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (three sips only, then spill the rest).
Dinner: A dry stick, two pennies, and a nickel; four sips of flat Sprite.
Bedtime snack: Throw a piece of toast on the kitchen floor.

Breakfast: Pick up stale toast from kitchen floor and eat it. Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye.
Lunch: Half tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a handful of Purina Dog Chow (any flavor). One ice cube, if desired.
Afternoon snack: Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again. Bring inside and drop on rug.
Dinner: A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril. Pour grape Kool-Aid over mashed potatoes. Eat with spoon.

Breakfast: Two pancakes with plenty of syrup. Eat one with fingers; rub in hair. Glass of milk; drink half and stuff other pancake in glass. After breakfast, pick up yesterday's sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, and put it on the cushion of best chair.
Lunch: Three matches, one glass of milk, one peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor. Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up.
Dinner: Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some red punch. Try to laugh some punch through your nose, if possible.

Breakfast: A quarter of a can of cake frosting (any flavor), a bit of soap, an olive. Pour a glass of milk over bowl of cornflakes; add half a cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog.
Lunch: Eat breadcrumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.
Dinner: Drop pieces of spaghetti onto back of dog; insert meatball into own ear. Dump pudding into Kool-Aid and suck up with a straw.

Friday, December 05, 2008


I guess maybe it's not too city-ish where we live after all. When there are a dozen turkeys walking through your yard and down the middle of your street:

This picture doesn't show it well, but we have found in the past that it doesn't work to go outside to try to snap a picture. We inadvertently chase them off, no matter how quiet and sneaky we are. So this is a photo taken from the living room window:

There are THREE turkeys sitting in my little crab apple tree. Andrew said something about how big those turkeys are, and how the tree can hold them while they nibble crab apples. Hey, that there is one clear demonstration of what it is to have hollow bones!

Seven Things

Paula tagged me with a meme and a Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks, Paula! I enjoy your blog too, especially the creative things you report from your kids!

I have found copying pictures of blog-awards to be stretching the limits of my ability. I suppose I could figure it out (again!!), but that would mean neglecting some mommy-duties. So if you want to see the award, you'll have to look at somebody else's blog.

The meme calls for

Seven things I did before:
1. Cheer wildly for Illini basketball and football.
2. Gymnastics and pompoms.
3. Read. Books. To myself.
4. Nurse babies.
5. Garden.
6. Sew clothes for myself and my long appendages.
7. Read the newspaper thoroughly.

Seven things I do now:
1. Laundry.
2. House cleaning.
3. Cooking.
4. Sing in choir.
5. Blog too much.
6. Fuss with my glasses on-and-off while I'm still rebelling against succumbing to the need for bifocals.
7. Homeschool two kids.

Seven things I would like to do:
1. Travel in Italy and Greece with Gary, more in the countryside than at the famous historic places.
2. Write a book or two.
3. Learn to relax and not worry about all the things I don't accomplish.
4. Remember how to work the technology (tv, computer, camera, etc) so that my family can teach me these things once each, instead of having to show me a gazillion times.
5. Become near-fluent in German and Greek, and as long as I'm dreaming, maybe Latin too.
6. Play more games with Maggie.
7. Periodically run away to the sunny south to escape the deep, dark days of northern winter.

Seven things that attract me to my husband:
1. That he believes the same doctrine I believe.
2. He loves me.
3. Very cute cheeks.
4. He doesn't waste money.
5. How good he is at fixing things and solving problems.
6. He spends long hours at his job so that I can be a mommy and housewife instead of a wage-earner.
7. When he spends his free time talking to me or helping with the dishes.

Seven favorite foods:
1. Fruit salads.
2. Stir-fry veggies, especially from King Dragon.
3. Seafood alfredo.
4. Sweet-100 cherry tomatoes in August.
5. Chicken breast poached in teriyaki sauce.
6. Hotfresh bread with too much butter.
7. Pizza lentils.

Seven things I say most often:
With the kids:
1. Do you know how many "one" is? Are you sure you can count to 1?
2. Didn't your grandfather teach you that Life Is Not Fair?
3. Did you do your chores yet?
4. Don't ask me again; it's FOOD.
At Bible class:
5. Wait! I have a question!
6. I better go change the load of laundry.
7. Jesus, save us!

Seven people I am tagging:
1. Maggie -- except she doesn't have a husband, so instead it'll have to be two nice things about each of the people you currently live with -- that'll get you close to 7.
2. Polly.
3-7. Uh... if you're reading this and haven't answered the questions yet, you're welcome to join in.

Today's Laugh

A Texan, an Englishman, and a Frenchman are all in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled crate of booze when, all of a sudden, Saudi police rush in and arrest them. The mere possession of alcohol is a severe offense in Saudi Arabia, so for the terrible crime of actually being caught consuming the booze, they are all sentenced to death!

However, after many months and with the help of very good lawyers, they are able to successfully appeal their sentences down to life imprisonment. By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the extremely benevolent sheikh decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip.

As they were preparing for their punishment, the sheikh announced: "It's my first wife's birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping."

The Englishman was first in line, he thought for a while and then said: "Please tie a pillow to my back." This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. When the punishment was done he had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain.

The Frenchman was next up. After watching the Englishman in horror he said smugly: "Please fix two pillows to my back." But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again, and the Frenchman was soon led away whimpering loudly (as they do).

The Texan was the last one up, but before he could say anything, the sheikh turned to him and said: "You are from a most beautiful part of the world and your culture is one of the finest in the world. For this, you may have two wishes!"

"Thank you, your most royal and merciful highness," the Texan replied. "In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes."

"Not only are you an honorable, handsome, and powerful man, you are also very brave." The sheikh said with an admiring look on his face. "If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish, what is it to be?" the sheikh asked.

"Tie the Frenchman to my back."

Thursday, December 04, 2008


So often, the ushers at churches are busy with their responsibilities and aren't paying attention to worship. That was one of the reasons that we weren't upset at our previous congregation when our sons decided that they didn't particularly want to usher. We wanted them to be praying and listening and singing in church, but often the ushers were chatting in the back about various and sundry topics.

At our new congregation, that doesn't happen very often.

During the closing hymn, the deacon and the pastor leave the chancel, down the aisle, to the rear of the nave. The acolyte puts out the candles, and then comes down the aisle too. Since I've been in choir, I have noticed that the pastor stands at the back of church, with his hymnal open (even if he knows the hymn by heart), so that he can share his hymnal with the acolyte when he is done with his candle-duties. Obviously the acolyte is expected to join pastor; pastor points out in the hymnal how far along the congregation is in the hymn; the acolyte starts singing along.

Such a small thing. But it says something to the kids who are acolyting, to the ushers who are standing in back, and to the choir members. We don't "bust on outta there." We don't have something better to do. We are in church; we pray the hymns and the liturgy. Even if there are other responsibilities upon us. We pray.

Roof Rake

Last year we noticed that we were the house in the neighbor with the humongous piles of snow on the roof. I don't know if it's the location of the house, the arrangement of the trees plus the neighboring houses, the lay of the land, or what. But we had drifts of 4' or more on our roof. And, oh, the overhangs of snow-pack, looming over the edge of the eaves. Amazing! Other houses had the same problem, but none to the extent that we had.

I've heard about the damage that ice dams can create. I hope we're not set up to have that problem, but even if we're not, we're just askin' for huge wads of snow-pack to come crashing down off the eaves.

So I bought a roof rake.

Used it today. Boy, the muscles in my legs are in better shape than are the ones in my upper body.

The thing I don't understand is why a roof rake will help if the gutters are full of snow. There is no place for the melting snow to go if the gutters are snow-packed and full of ice.

On the other hand, there was a LOT of snow on our roof last year. It didn't seem to have any inclination to melt and refreeze.

we will see.

Today's Laugh

How do you tell the difference between Democrats, Republicans, and Southern Republicans?

Try posing the following question:
You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the knife, and charges.

You are carrying a Glock .40, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Democrat's answer: Well, that's not enough information to answer the question! Does the man look poor or oppressed? Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack? Could we run away? What does my wife think? What about the kids? Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand? What does the law say about this situation? Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?

Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children? Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me? Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me? If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me? Should I call 9-1-1? Why is this street so deserted?

We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior. This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for a few days and try to come to a consensus.

Republican's answer: BANG!

Southern Republican's answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click....(sounds of reloading). BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click

Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips?"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Last night I was filling out a survey for some research on VCFS and its effects on the person, the caregiver, the family, and the community. When I'm asked to fill out a survey on homeschooling, I nearly always refuse to participate. I don't think it's helpful to have research that "proves" homeschooling is okay, because after all, what makes homeschooling okay is that God put children into families with parents, and children don't belong to the State. It's not the good results that make homeschooling okay (even though there are good results), and such research silently assents to the idea that homeschooling rights exist because we can measure up on the academic playing field. However, when a survey is about VCFS, and the experts know so little yet, and our family is one of the oddballs in that we homeschool and, well, "handle" the VCFS so differently than is normally advised, then I'm more willing to participate in the research studies.

There was a section in the survey that was asking about our family's acceptance in the community, and whether the community cared about our child's VCFS, and whether the community supported us as we raise a child with VCFS, and how involved our family is in making the community a better place, etc. I was thinking that the community doesn't care much. That's not an indictment against anybody; it's just that we haven't lived here very long and don't know too many people, and certainly don't know them well enough to be talking much about VCFS with these near-strangers.

But as I continued in the "community" section of the survey, some of the questions specifically asked about our "faith community" which was described as our church or mosque or synagogue. I answered the questions about church very very differently from how I answered the questions regarding the overall community. But the way the survey was arranged made it seem like church was part of the "community." I never thought of it that way before.

What do you think? Is church part of the community? Or is church something very different from our "communities"? Is this an "in the world but not of the world" thing? Or do I have an inadequate definition in my head of what "community" is?

Today's Laugh

A 3-legged dog walks into an old west saloon, slides up to the bar and announces "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."


We recently changed from Blockbuster-Online to Netflix, largely due to the availability of educational materials like documentaries and Standard Deviants. The big surprise, though, in the change-over is how fast Netflix is. When we return a video, the next one arrives in only TWO days of mail. Nice!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Jesus' Commandments

Psalm 71:3 says,
Be my strong refuge,
to which I may resort continually;
You have given the commandment to save me,
for You are my rock and my fortress.

True confessions: I used to HATE Psalm 119. All that talk about "loving God's law." I hated His law. It condemned me. It showed me how I failed. It told me to do things I could not do. It showed me how the things I did were contrary to God's desires. The Bible could speak of "loving God's law" and pastors could preach on it, but I disagreed. How could anybody love the thing that damned?

And yet, it is God's law. It must be good. It must.
But that didn't matter to me. It condemned. I hated it.

I know people who say they "love God's law." Many of them are people who love it because they see it as their instruction manual to get to heaven. "Here's the plan. Follow the plan. Do what it says. All will be well."

A long time ago, John Mark loved God's law that way. He came to Jesus to inquire about heaven (Mark 10). He announced to Jesus that he had kept the commandments. (Jesus didn't seem to think that was enough, though. Or maybe Jesus was of the opinion that Mark hadn't really kept those commandments; maybe Mark wasn't there for the Sermon on the Mount.)

This is the general way it works. Either we pat ourselves on the back for keeping the law, expecting God to be oh-so-happy with what good little Christians we are. Or we despair because the law demands what we cannot give.

Pastor talks sometimes about Jesus' commands as differentiated from Moses' commands. (Now, he is not saying that Moses' commands are not God's commands. They most certainly are. They are, however, commands of law.) Pastor pointed out that Jesus commanded His apostles to forgive sins (John 20) and to baptize (Matthew 28) and to preach (Luke 24) and to eat His body and blood (Mark 14). These are "commands" of the gospel. These are commands that are sweet and life-giving and comforting.

But it was something I'd never heard before.
This took some pondering.
For a couple of years.

So it was immensely satisfying to note in Psalm 71 that the Lord has given the commandment to save me.

Tracks in the Snow

One day last summer, we saw a small group of teenagers walking through our yard. They weren't near the house. They left the road, followed rather near the property line between our house and the neighbor's, headed across the big open spot in our back yard, and then went into the nursery that backs-up to the corner of our property. No damage. No trouble. Just some folks trying to get from the road to the nursery.

I wasn't real comfortable with it, but as far as I knew it happened only that one time.

Now there's snow. Maggie asked about the tracks in the snow that made a bee-line from the road to the back corner of the yard. She said they weren't hers. That means the incident last summer wasn't just once.

Now I'm wondering what's going to happen to the berries and tomatoes and grapes and green beans that I intend to plant out there. Will this group of interlopers trample them because my garden will be in their way when they go hiking? Will they sample the goodies I grow? Or will they just walk on past, heading to their hiking spot in the tree nursery with nary a thought of doing harm?

Psalm 69:6

Let not those who wait for You,
O Lord Yahweh of hosts,
be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek You
be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.
Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
Shame has covered my face.

I used to think this psalm was about the unbelievers pickin' on the believers, and how the believers are upset by that and don't like the suffering, and how David's (or Jesus') hearers would be embarrassed by the preacher. But as I prayed this psalm last night, I began to wonder....

Maybe it's not about the anointed one hiding out in the wilderness, away from Saul. Maybe it's about what he believes, what he preaches, what he stands for (such as not killing the king, but waiting for God's timing). Maybe it's about his reliance on God's grace and mercy. THAT can be confounding to Christians. Christians can look at small congregations with faithful preachers and be ashamed because they don't have mega-churches like Elmbrook or Joel Osteen's church. "Pastor, why can't you say the things that draw people in, like they do?"

Christians need to be saved from more than cancer and poverty and hunger. We need to saved too from our belief that there is something more than the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.

Hear me, O Yahweh, for Your lovingkindness is good;
turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Must Say Yes

One of my kids has a friend who is not shy about making requests. If he wants to go somewhere and his parents can't haul him there, he'll ask us to take him. At first, this was hard for me. I tend to think that I should say "yes" to whatever request people make of me unless I have a darn good reason not to. But then I end up struggling within myself as to whether I have a "good enough" reason to say no to the person who is requesting that I, oh, say, serve on a committee or join an organization or make a donation to their charity.

After some pondering, I think there are two types of people in the world. There are those like me who self-monitor their requests of others: "Oh, I can't ask them to do that; that would be imposing," or "This is too big a favor to ask," or "I don't want to be a bother so I won't ask for the help I need." These kind of people feel compelled to say "yes" to requests because obviously somebody wouldn't make the request unless they really really need to ask.

Then there's the other type of people. They're the ones who ask boldly because, after all, nobody will know what you want unless you honestly tell them. And if the person wants to say "no" to your request, that's just fine. These kind of people aren't offended in the least if they get "no" for an answer. (This actually has some back-up with regard to what Scripture says about praying boldly.)

I think the problem comes when the two types of people interact. Person A will agonize over saying "no" to Person B, while Person B isn't in the least offended by a negative response. Person B cannot understand why anybody should have a hard time saying "no" to an unwelcome request. Person A makes requests with much trepidation. Person B says "no" easily, without realizing how much it will effect Person A.

It would save me a lot of trouble if we could just put labels on people's foreheads as to which group they fall into. It would make it so much easier to say "no" without guilt.

And it would also make it easier to cope with the Group-B people who can't figure out why us Group-A people have a hard time saying "no."

Now, do you suppose this is genetic?

Four Letter S-Word


I was hoping to be able to run away, spend an evening and a morning with the folks in Fort Wayne, and impose upon my parents for Monday evening and a chunk o' Tuesday. (No, Mom, I hadn't invited myself yet. I figured I'd call after church today with my exploratory questions about availability. But I also figure I have a pretty good guess as to your availability.)

And then people at church were talking about the snow and the travel advisories. When I checked the weather forecasts, they'd changed a good deal since my last peek at them yesterday morning. So I guess I will make bread tomorrow instead of hugging a baby and hugging my pa. So much for my grand plans. This might mean we have to do math tomorrow....