Saturday, February 07, 2009

APT Fans

For those of you who have wished to see what's backstage at APT, you may be interested to know that Facebook folks can become fans of American Players Theatre and have fun checking out their picture albums!

Rich versus Poor

Working on the taxes, I'm reading through the 1040 Instruction Book.

For 2009, a family (two parents, and one or more children) is poor enough to claim the Earned Income Credit if their income is $43,415 or less.

For 2009, a family is rich enough to fill out forms to determine their Alternative Minimum Tax (aka, extra tax on the rich folks because they're rich enough to pay it) if their adjusted gross income is $45,000 or more.

Do these numbers look funny to anybody besides me???

Federal Deficit

Some of you were lucky enough to hear one of my favorite talk-show hosts when he substituted for Rush this week. Mark has the solution to the huge federal tax deficit.

Obama keeps nominating Democrats for positions in the cabinet and judicial offices, etc. They are vetted and their tax evasion is uncovered so that they must pay their back taxes. Hey, there are so many of them, and what they owe the IRS is so large, the deficit should be solved in a hurry!

Meal Prayers

The fourth petition:
Give us this day our daily bread.
God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayer, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

God would lead us to realize this.
Receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

Turn a few pages further back in the catechism, to the section on daily prayers. What is the prayer before meals? Both the psalm verse (and You give them their food at the proper time) and the little prayer (which we receive from Your bountiful goodness) are words which lead us to "realize this."

And the prayer after the meal? Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.

We pray that "God would lead us to realize this" and "God would lead us to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving" and so it is HIS words we use in our meal-time prayers.

I was so tickled and so surprised when I noticed that Luther's words under the Fourth Petition were in sync with the meal prayers. I don't know why I was surprised. Now it seems so obvious. (But I still think it's really cool!)

This discovery is kinda sorta like my shock (and delight) to discover once-upon-a-time that the Close of the Commandments has "fear, love, and trust" in it just like the meaning of the First Commandment does. Maybe I'm just really weird that these things interest me so much.

Today's Laugh

The pope dies and goes to heaven. St Peter welcomes him. "Everything heaven has is yours," he tells the pope.

The pope asks, "Do you happen to have transcripts of the conversations Jesus had with His followers?"

"Yes, we do," says St Peter, and shows him to an enormous library. He pulls an enormous book off the shelf, hands it to the pope, and leaves him alone.

Hours later, he returns to find the pope pounding his fists on the table and sobbing. "I don't believe it!" cries the pope, "There's an r! There's an r!"

"Are you all right?" St. Peter asks with alarm.

"There's an r!" yells the pope again. "It says celebrate!"

Friday, February 06, 2009

Split Pea Soup

When I married my husband, I knew he did not eat soup, he did not eat vegetables, and he would never never never eat peas.

Well, over the years he learned to eat and enjoy vegetables. Out of love for me, he learned to tolerate soup-in-general and even like some soups. And he even began to eat peas. After about twenty years of feeding him, one day I about fell off my chair when he said the peas were so good that he wanted a second helping. (Hey, I gotta admit, that was one good sauce I put on the peas that day!)

But never had I made split pea soup. I don't recall my mother ever making it for us. I figured combining soup and peas into one dish would be pushing Gary beyond his limits. No matter how hard he tried to be pleased with my cooking, I was afraid split pea soup would be hopeless to attempt.

And then Erin had us over one night for a soup party. Everything she made was totally awesomely delicious! And one of the soups was split pea. The people in my family, in an effort to be polite, tasted it. And they liked it!!!!! So now I've made split pea soup twice. Yummy!

The only problem slowing us down is that I never seem to have enough ham bones to flavor all the legume dishes I desire to cook. Maybe next time we take a piggy to the butcher, I should ask him to give me no hams, but just ham-steaks, so that I can have small chunks of bone to put in beans and lentils and soups.

Psalm 78:60

In this psalm, Asaph is working his way through Israel's history, showing God's faithfulness and Israel's rejection of His goodness, over and over. They sin. God gets angry. But He remains faithful and rescues them because they belong to Him, and it is for the honor of His name [His Jesus] that He continues to love and save and give of Himself.

So getting toward the end of the psalm, we find another one of those summaries of how the children of Israel disbelieved, and Asaph says,
They provoked Him to anger with their high places,
and moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.
When God heard this, He was furious,
and greatly abhorred Israel,

Ack! Scary!
God's mad!
What's He gonna do?

so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
the tent He had placed among men.
And delivered His strength into captivity,
and His glory into the enemy's hand.

Wait a minute? God gets ticked at Israel for their willful disobedience and their selfishness and their unbelief, and so He does what?

He forsakes His Son????

Okay, in history, when Asaph was praying this psalm, Jesus wasn't born yet. And it is true about the ark: 1 Samuel 4 tells the story of how God forsook the tabernalce in Shiloh, how He let the ark of the covenant be captured by the Philistines. The glory of Yahweh was delivered into captivity, into the temple of Dagon.

But we know Who is the real tabernacle (John 1), the tent that was placed among men. We know Who is "His strength". We know Who is "His glory."

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
and from the words of My groaning?

Like in the psalm, we provoke God to anger with our unbelief and our idolatry. We make Him furious. And in His hatred of this sin, He resolves it by delivering His Son into the hand of those who would kill Him. God's anger is vented on us by letting His glory [Jesus] be delivered over to the enemy.

That is SO not fair.

Thanks be to God!

Today's Laugh

Stolen from a Garrison Keillor tale:

He was so ugly that the banks turned off the cameras when he came in the door.

He was so ugly that, when he tried to enter an "Ugly Contest," they refused his application with the notation, "Sorry, no professionals allowed."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Let the Little Children Come to Me

Lauri writes about her 3-yr-old's desire to commune. Joy too writes of her toddler's distress over not being communed. All my children have been communing now for four years. I am stubbornly sticking my head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the fact that my grand-daughter is not communing; I'm trying desperately to convince myself that I don't know she's excluded from the altar. [Fingers in my ears. La lala la lala lala la. Not gonna open my eyes to the fact. Blindfold on! La lala la la la la....]

What is a parent to DO when they have no answer for a child as to why he cannot eat Jesus' body and blood??? And my gut-level reaction is to say, "Don't let him know about it in the first place." If we do not teach them the sixth chief part of the catechism, they won't learn it, and thus won't know what they're missing. If we don't talk about the Lord's Supper at home, and how we long for it, and what a treasure it is, the kids won't learn. Oh sure, they'll still know that this is something we do every Sunday and they will deduce that it's important. But the less we talk about it, the less we teach them of their sin and their need for forgiveness, the less we let them know about our own deep desire for Sunday to come so that we may be joined yet again with Jesus' body, the less the children will be taunted by their exclusion.

And then I thought,
The solution is to hide God's word and His blessing from them? The solution is to avoid parts of the catechism? The solution is to refrain from teaching certain hymns?

I'm not going to discuss infant communion or age of first communion right now. But here's the question: Why has this become such a huge issue for parents in recent years?

We didn't used to have toddlers holding out their hands, begging the pastor. We didn't used to ache over this denial of Jesus to our little ones. We didn't used to care. Why do we care now?

And I think....
the answer has to do with ...

what we're teaching now,
what we believe about the Supper now.

We used to commune once a month. Now it's every Sunday (or hopefully more frequently). The children see that this is something we do every week. It must be important.

We used to have children begin learning the catechism in 7th grade. They didn't start learning when they were only 1 or 2 that "it is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself, for us Christians to eat and to drink" and that "in the Sacrament, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us."

Sunday School used to be about Bible history and learning to be nice to our friends and telling other people about Jesus. Now our children are learning that the Bible is not just history stories, but also stories about how we have failed and how our God rescued us and continues to give of Himself to us who are not worthy. We are teaching our children about their baptism and about the Lord's Supper in a way that we didn't several decades ago.

The pastors are preaching more now than in years past about the Sacraments, connecting the Gospel reading to what Christ gives at the Table. The pastors wish to incite in their parishioners a yearning for the Supper.

And you know? Those little urchins LISTEN. They hear what we're teaching them. They hear the hymns and liturgy. They hear the catechism. And they believe it. And they long for that Supper which Jesus has provided for His lambs.

What else would be expect the children to do?

So we have only three choices. We can put off teaching them. Or we can take Jesus' words to heart: "feed My lambs." Or we can continue to weep over the fact that we are tongue-tied when our wee ones ask why they cannot commune.

Psalm 73:22

In Psalm 73, Asaph is talking about how things seem to go just swimmingly for the unbelievers. How come life is swell for those who sass God? Asaph is getting perturbed about this. He says it's just not right!
Thus my heart was grieved,
and I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.



So the unbelievers sass God and oppress His saints. And what do the saints do? Sass God by saying, "What's up with THAT? This ain't right!! What's the matter with You? Don't You know how to work this world?"

Nevertheless, He doesn't leave us nor forsake us.
Nevertheless, He hangs onto us.
Nevertheless, He guides us by the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, who lays Jesus onto our hearts, forgiving our grief and vexation and foolishness and ignorance. We may be like a beast before God, but He will still receive us into His glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Today's Laugh

A Lutheran joke I heard last weekend.
But I'm not sure it works when written:

Did you hear about the new WELS church in the next village over?
They're naming it St Mark-and-Avoid.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cotton Kills

While growing up, I hated wool. It itched.

Most colleges have PE requirements. One of the classes Philip considered taking was Winter Camping. Friends told him that the class requirements were one weekend away with the whole class, camping, and to know that COTTON KILLS.

Yeah, right. Those little balls of fluff grab the daggers from the Killer [Dust-]Bunnies and plunge then into people who are using the cotton-balls for first-aid purposes??

Okay, here's the scoop from the kids who took the class. When cotton gets wet, it cannot hold warmth. Wool is different. If your wool socks or your wool sweater is damp, the clothing can still keep you warm. But not cotton clothing. On my paper route once, I bumbled into discovering the truth of this. It was below freezing, but I managed to step into a puddle of slushy water that had melted partially because of the salt on the roads. Wet socks. Wet cotton socks. After a few minutes of really really cold feet, I peeled off the socks and went bare-footed in my sandals for the rest of the paper route. It was warmer to have naked skin than to be clothed in wet cotton. But when I've shoveled the driveway in wool socks and gotten wet feet, I'm okay.

That warmth thing kinda makes up for the itchiness, eh?
Makes me covet more wool.

Psalm 71:15

My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
and Your salvation all the day,
for I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord Yahweh;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.

Well, I guess there's one thing good about the intense struggle with sin and doubt and fear and unbelief. A person discovers that he can never find the limit to God's salvation and righteousness.

I have heard stories about Pr Korby. His beloved students say that he made mention of the phenomenon of how a person would "get more sinful" as he continued to avail himself of the blessings of private confession. Hey, shouldn't it be making me more holy? But it doesn't seem to work that way. My sinful flesh seems to get stronger, I seem to be attacked more by situations in the world, and the devil just gets more persistent. Once upon a time when I asked my father-confessor about that, I wanted to know whether I really am getting more sinful, or whether it just appears that way to me. He said he thinks Dr Korby meant that, through private confession, we come to know our sin in a way which we didn't before, ... and that makes it seem to us that we are therefore becoming more sinful. It's not an actual increase in sinfulness, but an increased awareness of the depth of the corruption. Furthermore, in private confession, the word of forgiveness is preached into the sinner's ear ... and that isn't something about which the devil is going to say, "Okie-dokie, good plan."

But what happens then? We discover [even experientially] that there are no limits to God's salvation and righteousness. We learn more and more how corrupt we are; we see ourselves more and more as God would see our sin. And yet, His love never quits. It never fails. It is always bigger than our sin. Always. We can't find the end of it. I do not know their limits. We go in the strength of the Lord, because we sure ain't goin' in our own strength. We make mention of His righteousness, His only, because we learn more and more that we have no righteousness of our own, no, not even as Christians.

I do not know the limits of His salvation and righteousness.

Today's Laugh

The square root of -1 asked pi, "Why can't you be more rational?"

Pi retorted, "Oh, get real!"

(Stolen from a t-shirt slogan that I saw on a banner-ad on the Drudge Report recently.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Wisconsin people need to mark their calendars for February 17 and April 7 to go vote.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is up for re-election. She is rather activist. Her opponent is Randy Koschnick who has a constructionist perspective on judging the law. One Journal-Sentinel article is here, but there's plenty of info out there on the differences in the candidates.

The position of DPI superintendent is up for grabs. The current superintendent is not seeking re-election. Candidates are:

Tony Evers -- the current deputy superintendent. He has the backing of a variety of organizations in the educational establishment. He is in favor of repealing the QEO (which limits the annual raise teachers may receive in salary/benefits).

Rose Fernandez -- no previous political experience (both a plus and a minus). She recently ran the organization which fought for public e-schools (aka virtual schooling). She has ideas for large changes in how the schools are funded and how the Mwkee schools are run.

Van Mobley -- tv-preacher hair and ambitious (which makes me nervous). But strongly in favor of reducing the mandates on the schools, wants smaller school districts, and thinks that we should hold the line on property taxes so that the schools spend only as much as the public can afford. Also says he's in favor of teaching the basics, character education, and wants to maintain the QEO.

Lowell Holtz -- superintendent and principal, primarily in smaller school districts. Wants the QEO to be eliminated.

Todd Price -- tv-preacher hair. Supported by the Green Party and by Educators Roundtable. In favor of scrapping "No Child Left Behind." Wants to rework funding for schools so that they aren't stuck with such limited funds like they are now.

WisPolitics has a brief run-down on the candidates.

Ten-minute interviews with each candidate can be found at "Here and Now" which is a PBS show aired on Friday evenings. (I assume Holtz is scheduled for this coming Friday since his interview isn't listed yet.)

As noted in an AP story, the position of DPI superintendent is largely an administrative post with little authority to set policy. Honestly, I think I'd be more comfortable with a liberal who "just does the job" than with a conservative who has an agenda to use the position for advocating. All of the candidates have good points and bad points -- although some have significantly more good points and some have significantly more bad points. More information can be found on each candidate by googling his name and "dpi superintendent."

Clean Headlights

I had just washed the van the previous week. But boy, with the thaw over the weekend, we were picking up some heavy-duty grime on the windows of the van. I had to wash them over and over at the gas station, and the muddy water just rolled off the windshield onto the hood.

We hopped into the van Saturday evening to go from our hotel room to the college to enjoy the musical there. Something was wrong with the headlights. Never before had both headlights gone out at the same time; that seemed a very odd coincidence. But we could detect a change from the running lights to the headlights to the brights. So it didn't seem the lights had burned out. And yet, we could hardly see. We wondered how well the other drivers could see us.

Turned out that the dirt on the lights was SO HEAVY that they were severely dimmed.

I was aware of wiping snow from the headlights when I scrape the car windows. But washing the headlights when I wash the windows was something that had never occurred to me before this weekend!

Today's Laugh

From Polly,

New Drugs for Women

BUYAGRA: Stimulant to be taken prior to shopping. Increases potency and duration of spending spree.

MENICILLIN: Potent anti-boy-otic for older women. Increases resistance to Latin heartthrobs.

ST. MOM'S WORT: Plant extract that treats mom's depression by rendering pre-schoolers unconscious for up to six hours.

EMPTY NESTROGEN: Highly effective supplement that eliminates melancholy by enhancing the memory of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn't wait till they moved out.

PEPTO-BIMBO: Liquid silicone for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and improves flirting.

DUMMEROL: When taken with Pepto-bimbo, can cause lowering of IQ, causing enjoyment of loud country music and cheap beer.

FLIPITOR: Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.

ANTI-TALKSIDENT: A spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers.

RAGAMET: When administered to a husband, provides the same irritation as nagging on him all weekend, saving the wife the time and trouble of doing it herself.

DAMMITOL: Take two and the rest of the world can go to heck for 8 hours!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Christmas Pictures

Not many of my pictures turned out. This is about the extent of what isn't too fuzzy or too dark. Katie's turned out much better.

Uncle Paul

Grandma enjoying the most comfy way to nap

Aunt Maggie

Uncle Matt

Grandpa deep in conversation with his sweetie

Mommy, Daddy, and baby


A rather sizable snowman. Or snow tower. Or snow slug. Or something.

Paul in his costume for the play.

You put some eye-liner and lipstick on Paul, and put a goatee on Rachel, and the similarity gets frighteningly amazing. But, hey, when Rachel and Philip were little enough to be in their pre-hair days, they looked nearly identical. And we know that Philip and Paul look nearly identical. And our mathematical axioms teach us that if a=b and b=c, then a=c. So you get Paul's hair out of the way under a bald-cap, and put make-up on him....


I seem to be developing a knack for this.

Yesterday we were visiting Paul and celebrated Transfiguration (1-yr series) and will be celebrating it again here at home in three weeks (3-yr series).

Last year we celebrated Transfiguration in January at Triune, and then in February at Peace.

The previous year we celebrated Transfiguration at Triune and Peace (1-yr series), and then happened to be visiting in South Bend the Sunday before Lent which there (3-yr series) was Transfiguration.

That's SIX Transfiguration Sundays in 25 months. This is somewhat unsettling for someone so settled into the rhythms of the church year. Next year I think I need to pay attention to this and stay put.

Today's Laughs

Not to be outdone by the Americans, UN officials held their own Groundhog Day.

In their own Groundhog Day ceremony, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), tying in reports on global warming, announced that there would be six more weeks of winter

... followed by 1000 years of summer.

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Over breakfast one morning, a woman said to her husband, "I'll bet you don't know what day this is."

"Of course I do," he answered as if he were offended, and left for the office.

At 10:00 a.m., the doorbell rang and when the woman opened the door, she was handed a box of a dozen long-stemmed red roses. At 1:00 p.m., a foil-wrapped, two-pound box of her favorite chocolates was delivered. Later, a boutique delivered a designer dress.

The woman couldn't wait for her husband to come home.

"First the flowers, then the chocolates and then the dress!" she exclaimed. "I've never had a more wonderful Groundhog Day in my life!

Sunday, February 01, 2009


It's funny when you're missing home and yet glad to be where you are.

The kitties must be suffering terribly with our being out of town. You know Rosie ate up all Athena's food right away.

I hate missing church at home on Sunday, even when we're at a good place.

Gus's baptism is today. We're missing the party -- boo hoo! We'll have to figure out another time to go meet him.

Aaron posted the same quote on his blog that Gary and I absolutely loved.

We came to Mankato to see Paul and friends in the school musical. (With it being a very quick trip and with wanting to go to church with Paul, we missed out on the opportunity to see nearby friends.) The weather is warm, the day was sunny, the snowman-building was fun to watch, and the play was quite funny.

Going to have to go on a detox diet tomorrow and Tuesday. Fast food for breakfast and supper yesterday. Hotel continental breakfast today. Fast food later today for lunch. I do love those Junior Whoppers! But too many of those meals in a row will get to me. I did bring an iron skillet and picnic supplies so that we could eat oranges, fry eggs and real ham, and toast homemade bread for a big dinner in the dorm lounge on Saturday afternoon. Sure smelled good in there!

For Paul's first time on the stage, I was impressed. He was part of the chorus and had no lines of his own. But you could see that he was comfortable there, and he had a really good stage presence.

Time to go pack up the hotel room and get to church....

Today's Laugh

What do you call a black man who flies an airplane?
I dunno. What?
Duh -- a pilot, you racist!

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One penguin said to the other penguin, "It almost looks like you're wearing a tuxedo."
The second penguin responded, "How do you know I'm not?"

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If at first you don't succeed,
look in the trash for the instructions.