Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not Applying for the Job

Every Wednesday and every Saturday I look at the ad papers, in case a Just-Right Job should appear in the want ads. This week I thought I saw it. A local restaurant (only four miles from the house) needs a cook, Monday to Thursday lunches, 11-2:00. It's nearby. It's few enough hours. The schedule doesn't interfere with chapel or choir or Gary's evenings/weekends home. It's cooking! At a perfect time! Nearby!

I feel like such a wuss, but I finally decided not to apply. I'm finally beginning to get a handle on life. Things are not spiraling crazily out-of-control. I'm doing what I should be doing with the kids and their schoolwork (well, at least, to some extent). I'm getting a grip on a schedule that recognizes [ta da!] that we eat supper every day. I want to get settled & firm in this before I try to extend myself. I really don't need challenges right now. It bugs me that I feel guilty for being able to cope with life as it stands; if I can handle what I've got on my plate, doesn't that mean I should be taking on more? (My reasonable mind knows the answer to that question, but my gut hollers a different answer.)

So now I have to decide whether I'm going to keep reading the ad-papers. It has crossed my mind that if the job were preparing food I'd want to eat, food for health and superb taste, I'd've been far more likely to apply. But somehow, the idea of heating pre-made soup, grilling burgers, deep-frying cheese curds and mushrooms and french fries and chicken nuggets, etc, just isn't enough to entice me into making the sacrifices I'd need to make for the paycheck. At least, not yet. Now, if I could really cook for people.... hmmm.


Furnace has been on for two weeks. Last year we didn't flip the switch until the last week of October or early November.

We've had frost nearly every night for a few weeks. We've only had a few days where the high temperature has gone above 50. It's normal now to look out the window at the thermometer in the morning and see a number between 30 and 35. Last year Gary was outdoors, working on finishing the deck, until mid October. This year we can't seem to kick ourselves outdoors to do that final lawn-mowing job of the year -- it's too cold.

Last year, on November 5, Katie and I were sitting outdoors, sunbathing ourselves and sunning newborn Alia to kill off spare bilirubin cells. I am highly skeptical as to whether there will be Indian summer this year showing up before the blankets of snow.

Would you please buy an SUV and drive it on all sorts of unnecessary errands so that we can get some global warming happenin' around here?

Today's Laugh

One day, little Johnny visited a doctor for a vaccination. After the doctor gave him an injection, he tried to bandage Johnny's arm.

"I think you'd better bandage the other arm", said Johnny.

"But, why? I'm supposed to bandage the injected part of your arm to let your friends know not to touch it."

"Doc, you really don't have a clue about how my friends behave!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

The True Temple

As we have been traveling through the David stories recently, Pastor has been pointing out all these ways that David looks like Jesus ... but not quite. And all these ways Solomon looks like Jesus ... but not quite. And in the last few days, all these ways the temple looked like Jesus ... but not quite.

Today's story (from 1 Kings 9) is God's response to Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple. God promises to be faithful to His covenant. He also promises that the line of David will continue as long as they do not go after other gods. But if they turn from following the Lord
the house which I have consecrated for My name will be cast out of My sight.... And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished by it and will hiss and say, "Why has the Lord done thus to this land and this house?" Then they will answer, "Because they forsook the Lord their God...."

Jesus, the true temple of the Lord, was destroyed because of the sin of the people. As He hung on the cross, people passed by and mocked. And why did it happen? Because God's people forsook the Lord their God and embraced other gods. Also, as a type of the true Temple, the temple in Jerusalem was raised up again after it had been destroyed.

From the Good Friday Old Testament reading: My Servant shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.

Zoo Trip

Okay, so I'm very very slow. Pictures from early August ...

The man with Gary is Randy, one of the bosses at Gary's work, and the guy has done so much to teach Andrew to sing bass! (Andrew was seated next to Randy last year in choir, and it helped him immeasurably just to be able to follow the lead of the strong singer next to him.)

Petting a chicken. (My mom is not jealous of Alia!)

Petting a snake. Now, does James agree with what Pastor said in Bible class a week or two ago, about our natural inclination to be to recoil from snakes?

She liked the baby chicks.

Rainy day. Typical kid -- just as enchanted by the umbrella as she was by the animals.


All the kids but Nathan made it that day:

Today's Laugh

The company psychiatrist was interviewing Nancy. As she sat in the chair, the psychiatrist asked a series of questions to determine if she was emotionally suitable for the company.

Things were not going well for Nancy. The psychiatrist decided to try a new approach, to give Nancy one last chance. He asked, "If you could have a conversation with someone, living or dead, who would it be?"

Nancy quickly responded, "The living one."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Answer to Prayer

Our story today was from the end of 1 Kings 8: Solomon's prayer upon the dedication of the temple. Over and over, Solomon prayed that God would hear and forgive. When there was famine and the people realized their sin and repented, God should hear and forgive. When God brought war upon them, He should hear and forgive their prayers when they repent. When there is pestilence. When they are taken into captivity by their enemies. When there is plague and sickness. When there is drought.

The calamity brings the people to realize their sin and their need. The calamity causes them to say, "We have sinned." And God will be faithful to forgive. The solution to the problem is not just that God would send rain or send victory or send health. The solution is forgiveness.

Cause of Depression

I have heard it said over and over again that we must realize clinical depression to be a physiological problem and not a spiritual problem. It's medical, people say. We don't want to make it sound like people should just be able to get their act together and do a better job of trusting God. They need help from doctors and therapists. We are told that we need doctors to help with broken legs or cardiovascular disease, and depression is no different.

And I agree. Kind of.

I have some cysts. Sometimes they get bigger and give me pain I'd rather not deal with. The flare-ups are linked to stress and worry. It's not like an hour's worth of stress (or a day's worth) will result in pain. But months of greater-than-normal stress will cause a physiological problem.

High blood pressure is frequently caused by stress and worry. Not always, but often.

Acid-reflux is frequently caused by stress and worry. If it is true that worry is a sin against the first commandment, then wouldn't it follow that acid-reflux is often a symptom or an outgrowth of a spiritual problem?

Of course, people still need their medical doctors for cysts and cardio-vascular problems and acid-reflux. Of course, they still need medicine and treatment. Of course, they cannot be expected to "do a better job of trusting" so that they can "overcome" their physical problems through some me-centered attempt at Increased Faith. But that doesn't negate the fact that the physical problems resulted from worry (aka, sin).

So why would it be any different if the illness were clinical depression?

Today's Laugh

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but...
fat cells live forever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Sin of Worry

I would have thought it was something we would all agree upon: worry is sin.

But we don't. When I have talked about my sinful worrying, sometimes friends will object. "It's not a sin to worry. We all worry. We can't help worrying. It's just part of human nature."

What does any of that have to do with whether it's a sin?

How can we say that worry is not sin? Worry is the result of saying that circumstances of life are not what they should be. God is screwing up. He's not taking care of things in the way I deem appropriate, so I need to resolve the problem. And if I can't fix it myself, then I reserve the right to fret and stew over what's coming down the pike. Worry is what happens when I value something "under the sun" more than I value Jesus and His forgiveness. Worry is what happens when we do not "leave all things to God's direction" (LSB 719) but decide that we know better and that we should be gods for ourselves.

Worry is sin against the first commandment.

Even in the Beichtafel (pg 1460 in Treasury of Daily Prayer or pg 658 in Pastoral Care Companion or pg 38 of Lutheran Catechesis) we read, "Do I see my worry and fretting as sin against trusting God?" and "Do I expect only good from God in every situation, or do I worry, doubt, complain, or feel unfairly treated when things go wrong?"

Why do we chafe so much against admitting that our worry is sin? I think it's because we have this deep-seated belief that it's up to us to solve our problem of sin. Even while we believe in the mercy of God, even while we trust Christ's blood-bought forgiveness, we remain sinful unbelievers who want to be able to do something to make ourselves better Christians. So we think we must find a way to stop worrying. "Buck up and do a better job of trusting, you lout," we scold ourselves. But that law will not make us better. The solution to our problem of sin lies only and always and ever in the merits of Christ alone.

So I admit it. I worry. I ought not. But knowing that I ought not doesn't stop me. Trying to stop worrying has no effect. I say with Paul (in Romans 7), The good that I would, that I do not do... But we also confess that the Gospel is bigger than our sin. Jesus Christ sets us free from this body of death. There is therefore now no condemnation in Him.

Today's Laugh

"I'm sorry," said the clerk in flower shop, "we don't have potted geraniums. Could you use African violets instead?"

The customer answered sadly, "No, it was geraniums my wife told me to water while she was gone."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Long Day

Last time we bought a side of beef, I wasn't happy with the quality of either the cow or the packer. So we went back to Country Pride Meats in Clinton and bought half a cow from the same people we've been buying beef from for many many years. That meant a bit of a drive today.

Andrew and I started listening to US at War series. I love it. It's balanced. It draws heavily on primary sources. It encourages critical thinking. The kids hate it; they say George C Scott has a droning voice that puts them to sleep. Andrew drove home from the butcher, solely motivated by a desire to avoid note-taking on the history audio-book. While he drove, I read All-of-a-Kind Family to Maggie, and hit a few chapters of our kiddie version of the Odyssey.

On our way home, we were dropping off 1/4 of the meat with the family who went in with us to buy the side. We missed a turn, and so took a route that was just a wee bit longer. It happened to go right past Old World Wisconsin, a place that Maggie's been longing to visit, if only to hit the gift shop. We decided to run in and purchase that $2 fan she's been desiring. Oh my goodness! Four bus-loads of kids. About 60-80 grade-schoolers in a tiny gift shop, all wanting to spend money. What a madhouse! It took us about 20 minutes to make that one little purchase. At least they were relatively well-behaved kids.

While down near our old stomping grounds, we stopped at our eye doctor's office and had our glasses adjusted. Mine were so crooked that I'm having a hard time getting used to the "empty spot" where the corrective lenses no longer sit. It may be weird for a few days of adjustment, but it should make reading out of books easier -- keep those near-sightedness lenses out of the way where I need the far-sightedness lenses. I keep inching closer to admitting that I need bifocals. But not yet....

Freezer has been emptied, scraped free of frost build-up, repacked with the new meat, and organized. It's so nice to go hunt in the freezer and know where to find certain food items.

Four days of white bread and white pasta has wreaked havoc on my allergies. It also seems to have caused joint pain. Shoot. I'm old. Hopefully getting back to a better diet will help. But it also scares me about traveling and being away from my kitchen for more than a day at a time. I'm old.

Two Steve Martin movies arrived from our Netflix queue today. Ah, tonight we will sit and laugh! Andrew needs to see The Jerk so that he can understand the choir director's frequent references to the movie.

Today's Laugh

Two gas-company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood. They parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house a woman looking out her kitchen window watched the two men as they checked her gas meter.

Finishing the meter check, the supervisor challenged his coworker to a foot race down back to the truck. As they came running up to the truck, they realized the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong.

Gasping for breath, she replied, "When I see two gas men running as hard as you two were, I figured I'd better run too!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today's Laugh

A minister was planning a wedding at the close of the Sunday morning service. After the benediction he had planned to call the couple down to be married for a brief ceremony before the congregation. For the life of him, he couldn't think of the names of those who were to be married.

"Will those wanting to get married please come to the front?" he requested.

Immediately, nine single ladies, six widows, and two single men stepped to the front.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not Getting What You Pray For

On Thursday before Bible class, as a bunch of us hung around the coffee pot and cookie trays, one of the women brought up a question. Her neighbors have concluded that God must not like them much, since they're having some difficulties and He's not giving them the solutions that they're praying for. She wondered how to respond. Discussion ensued about praying "Thy will be done," about asking for a Rolls Royce, about the theology of the cross, etc.

Pretty soon, Pastor wandered over. She asked him. Before having heard the background to the question, his initial response was, "Prayer is the voice of faith. Are they asking for what faith desires?" He had some other brief comments and questions too, but that one line really says it all. What does faith pray for anyway? God does not indulge our Old Adam in its idolatry and unbelief, but rather gives us what the New Man prays for.

Today's Laugh

On still another diet, Sue had lost a few pounds and a lot of her usual sunny disposition. After making a snappish remark to her husband, she apologized and reminded him that he was supposed to stick by her through thick and thin.

"I know," he said, dryly, "but thick was a lot easier."