Friday, December 31, 2010

Philip and Tapco on TV

Mom, you're going to want to see this clip!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Must Be a Grandma

I don't care if the ornaments are clustered in one spot on the tree. I don't care if there are big bare spots. That unevenness is simply evidence that Somebody was here, taking ornaments off the tree, playing with them, making Pooh and Piglet talk to the fireman and the Santa. And that's a happy thing!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate in the Socks

Lesson learned on Christmas afternoon (the very firstest Christmas in which we hung our socks by the fireplace):

If you want to start a fire for a cozy atmosphere, either
a) remove the socks from their hooks, or
b) remove the chocolate from the socks.

Yup. It's a plan that we shan't forget next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas Sale

Sign on the door of the hardware store today:

50% off all Christmas merchandise
Christmas lights
Christmas trees
inflatable snowmen
Santa heads

I giggled as I walked in.
I giggled as I requested the bill for my solar salt.
I asked about the Santa heads.
The clerk was new; I'd never seen her before; she was not amused; she explained what "Santa heads" were and where they were located; she told me these were the heads that you would stick on a light post.
And then I thought it was even more hilariously warped and sick.
When I told the family at supper about the sign at Ace Hardware, they started dreaming up Halloween scenarios of Santa heads on pikes (aka, light posts) all around the front yard. Talk about scarring little children for life... !

Now that I try looking up "Santa heads" online in various places to provide a link, I'm not finding such a thing. I'm wondering if the guys were pulling a fast one on the new clerk.

A Picture of Heaven

Sunday morning. Feast of Stephen, so the nights are still long and the days brief. 6:30, an hour before sun-up on a cloudy day, so the dark of night is not yet banished.

The world is quiet. The whole way to church at this early hour, I see only one other vehicle, and that one is a couple of blocks away on a side street. The businesses are darkened. The windows in the homes are dark; not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

I approach the church driveway and look back across the lawn and see the building lit. Light floods from the windows. The church shines, surrounded by darkness. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. In that building is the voice that absolves sinners. In that building is the altar, the mercyseat, the place of God's saving presence, where the body of the King of the Universe gives life, where the angels singing with all His saints unite.

Here is Jesus' manger. Here is heaven.

I wish I'd had my camera. I would have traipsed out to the street (even in the cold) and snapped a photo to capture that icon someplace a little more reliable than just my memory.

Yet, in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sweet 16

Julie arranged this awesome bow to adorn Maggie's birthday present. She took thin ribbon and threaded 8 long pieces through a store-bought bow and then stapled the ribbons to anchor them into the center of the bow. Then she tied sugar cubes onto the ends of the ribbons. Isn't that just the cutest thing you ever saw?!!!


You're "supposed" to hug your kids and tell them you love them. I never did that as much as I should have. When we moved here, and I would see Pastor hug his wife and sons so often at church, I would sometimes feel guilty for not being more demonstrative with my affection for my family.

Then I started the job.
I wasn't home as often.

Now I am driven to hug them more. During my two weeks of training at the nearby branch, I came home from lunch and hugged the kids. When I got to church on Wednesday night for Advent services (coming straight to church from work) I would hug the kids and Gary.

When those absences from your dear ones are forced upon you, maybe that's what makes you more huggy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sheep and Shepherds

The last line of the Venite (Psalm 95) says that we are "the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand." I don't know about you, but I tend to think of a pasture as a place for sheep, not for people. I've been pondering on the oddness of "people of His pasture" for a few months. I think Pastor accidentally answered it for me during last Sunday's Bible class.

We were studying Luke 2. The shepherds heard from the angels. They went to Bethlehem to see this thing which had come to pass. And they blabbed it all over the place! They told! They couldn't hold in the joy of the news that the Messiah had come to save sinners! "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

But the Apostle John not only points out Jesus, the Lamb; he also is the one who records Jesus' discourse on the Good Shepherd. Jesus is both the Lamb and the Good Shepherd. Our pastors are shepherds, but they are also Jesus' lambs. Same for us: "I am Jesus' little lamb; ever glad at heart I am...." Still, we (like the shepherds) tell our children and our friends and our neighbors about the Good Shepherd. If Jesus is both Lamb and Shepherd, we who are joined to Him would also be both lambs and shepherds.

And maybe that explains the line in the Venite.

Like shepherds who have heard the angel's preaching, let us go now even unto Bethlehem (the House of Bread) and sing the [tweaked] Easter hymn:
Then let us feast this [Christmas] day
on Christ, the bread of heaven.
The Word of grace has purged away
the old and evil leaven.
Christ our Lord our souls will feed;
He is our meat and drink indeed.
Faith lives upon no other. Alleluia!

Today's Laugh

Philip was telling us today that Matt (who is a doctor) has a t-shirt that says "Trust me, I'm a doctor." We looked up a picture, and this is what we found.

(You have to be pretty geeky to get this, but some of us are highly amused!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today's Laugh

A man went to his dentist because he felt something wrong in his mouth. The dentist examined him and said, "That new upper plate I put in for you six months ago is eroding. What have you been eating?"

The man replied, Aall I can think of is that about four months ago my wife made some asparagus and put some stuff on it that was delicious ... Hollandaise sauce. I loved it so much I now put it on everything — meat, toast, fish, vegetables, everything."

"Well," said the dentist, "that's probably the problem. Hollandaise sauce is made with lots of lemon juice, which is highly corrosive. It's eaten away your upper plate. I'll make you a new plate, and this time I'll use chrome."

"Why chrome?" asked the patient.

The dentist replied, "It's simple. Everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Presents Under the Tree

I didn't think we'd have presents this year. But the tree is surrounded!

1. A stranger showed up last week with a large bag full of presents from an anonymous giver. We're still scratching our heads over that one.
2. Nathan's folks sent presents for Alia, Katie, and Nathan. Those currently are sitting under our tree, as the kids don't have a tree at their apartment.
3. Yee-haw for the dollar store!
4. Some of the items under the tree are not really presents. For instance, there are a few textbooks that should've been cracked a couple of weeks ago, but we wrapped them up instead and are calling them gifts.
5. Another yee-haw for sales and "here's-$10-to-spend" coupons. I bought a $30 gift today for $4.
6. And "wow!" for the gift cards available. With sale prices and a coupon and some Kohl's Cash from a friend, I bought two gifts (worth $150) for less than $10. We came out of Target with a $50 family-gift that Maggie paid $15 for. We hit up Best Buy and paid a whole dollar for $28 worth of fun stuff.
7. I'm not spending money we don't have for gifts that people don't need. But I do have stuff that I made over the summer that I can give to the older kids so that they can have something for Christmas.
8. A homeschooling friend wanted to get rid of a "5-minute toy." It looks like it will be amusing for an afternoon or a week. All we had to do was buy the batteries.

Thanks to some generous friends and last-minute shopping, we found some non-frivolous (but enjoyable and helpful) gifts so that everyone will have at least one thing to open on Christmas afternoon. That is so cool!

Doubting Thomas on the Solstice

So does anybody else find enchanting the two celebrations for this one date?

The antiphon for this day is "O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death." It reminds us of Zachariah's song at the birth of his son John: "... by the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Thomas didn't see Jesus that first evening after the resurrection. Thomas was in the darkness of unbelief and doubt. The Apostle John writes at the beginning of his gospel: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.... He came to His own, but His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God." On this feast of the holy Apostle Thomas, we remember his doubts that are so like unto our doubts. We see in him our flesh's desire to trust what we see and experience instead of what we hear from our Lord. But we also see a Savior who remained faithful even when we are faithless. We see a Savior who was committed to fulfilling His word. We see because He is the light. We see because He gives sight to the blind.

Enlighten our darkness with the light of Your Christ.
May His word be a lamp to our feet
and a light to our path.
For You are merciful, and You love Your whole creation.
And we, Your creatures, glorify You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Why the difference? Some people say, "I know this is hard for you," and you can feel the sympathy and the love coming through. Others say, "I know this is hard for you," and somehow it comes off as an implication that it shouldn't be hard for you, and what's the matter with you that it is?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

At Home

Phone calls around here often proceed thusly:
Maggie: Hello, [last name] residence.
Caller: Hi, Susan. [blah blah blah]
Maggie: Ummmm... this is Maggie. I can go get my mom for you.
Caller: Oh. Okay. Wow, you sound just like your mom.

So yesterday I pick up the telephone.
Susan: Hello, [last name] residence.
Caller: Hi. Is your dad home? If so, may I talk to him?
Susan: Peter???
Caller: This isn't Maggie?
Susan: No, it's Susan. My dad is home, but you can't talk to him for a couple more decades. So, would you like to talk to my husband?

Y'know, that's such a comforting thing to say. He is at home.

"At home."
Beautiful words!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raisins in Cookies

Some people like raisins in their cookies. Those people can click onto the next blog on their list right now.

Some people complain when their wives or mothers put raisins in the cookies. Big old lumpy chewy things. But sometimes that mother wants to put raisins in the cookies. Oh, y'know, because maybe she likes the raisins. Or she wants to sneak some extra nutrition into the cookies. Or other equally evil subterfuges.

When you're mixing together the cookie dough, save out about 1/4 or 1/2 cup of the flour. Put the raisins into your food processor. Sprinkle that reserved flour on top of the raisins in the food processor. Turn on the machine, and let it grind up your raisins into little pieces. (The more you have to hide them, the smaller you chop them.) Into the batter they go. If you ground them small enough, none of your raisin-haters will even notice ... except for how sweet and tasty the cookies are. "These are better than usual, Mom!" "Yes, dear, they are, aren't they?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hello, It's Me Again!

Six days in a row I show up at chapel in a dress and hose and nice shoes. And then on the next day, I show up at chapel in my jeans, hoodie sweatshirt, and tennies. Several people said, "Oh, you don't work today?"

And I thought ...
"Ah, I look like me again!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Lutherans have been told that transubstantiation is bad bad bad. That's what the Catholics believe, right? On occasion, when I have mentioned bread and wine "changing into" the body and blood of Christ when joined with the Words of our Lord, I have been scolded by Lutherans. "We don't believe it changes into Jesus' body and blood," they say. "That's what Catholics believe."

I don't understand. It wasn't Jesus' body and blood. Now it is. Something changed. What's so wretched about saying "changes into"?

I have been told by some folks that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation. Other folks have said that Lutherans do not believe in consubstantiation. That one puzzled me too. We often use the prepositions "in, with, and under." "Con" means "with." So what's so wretched about that term?

Well, there's been a lot of talk about these matters during Bible classes the last couple of months. And here's what I've learned:

"Consubstantiation" has too much of a location sense to it. It's almost like saying Jesus' body is with the bread, like Bob and Joe go to the hardware store with each other. But Bob isn't Joe, and Joe isn't Bob. So "consubstantiation" isn't a good term, because the bread is Jesus' body.

So what's the deal with transubstantiation? We Lutherans do not argue with the Roman Catholics about the bread really being Jesus' body; we agree. The disagreement we have with Rome is that they don't really quite think the bread is still there; they think it just appears to be bread but is really Jesus' body. Not a huge error -- certainly not like the error which sets aside Jesus' word "This is My body" and considers the bread to be mere bread which symbolizes Jesus' body. But why do they think the bread is no longer there?

It sounds like it's just too much closeness. Too much of God condescending to us. Too much dirtying Himself with mere atoms and molecules. How could God be bread? How humiliating that would be for Him!

But if we believe that He made matter and called it good, ...

if we believe that He took on human flesh and joined Himself to our race, incarnated in the womb of the virgin so that He might be our brother and save us, ...

if we believe that He doesn't want to maintain distance between Himself and His creatures, ...

then we believe that our God's joy and delight is to be joined to us! He does not want to keep His distance! He doesn't have to change the bread so that it is no longer bread but is only His body. He chooses to come in this very concrete [even fleshy] way.

The problem with Rome's transubstantiation is NOT that they think too highly of what that bread is, or what is in that chalice. The problem, rather, is the subtle little separation: Christ's body and Christ's blood couldn't possibly be so intimately joined with the bread and wine.

But He is! And He is joined to my flesh. And your flesh. Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say 'rejoice'!

Oh, Christian heart,
whoe'er thou art,
be of good cheer and let no sorrow move thee.
For God's own Child in mercy mild
joins thee to Him --
how greatly God must love thee!! (TLH 81:4)

Monday, December 13, 2010

First Week of Work

My feet hurt. No surprise there -- LOL. And last week there was a lot of sitting in the training room, with only a couple hours a day on my feet. This week will be lots of standing.

I managed not to become dehydrated. I usually do that when I get out of the house instead of living in close proximity to my stove, fridge, and kitchen sink, with occasional forays to the washer & dryer.

The disadvantage of being older is that I don't bop around the computer screen at a high rate of speed, finding links to click to give me the information I need to take care of a customer. And then there are a gazillion different user-id's and passwords to remember for work. The advantage of being older is that I have a lot more understanding of how a bank works, how the whole economy works, and what sort of products banks have available (especially ours, because I've been a customer there for a year before becoming employed there).

There were five of us being trained last week. Two had been tellers before. Three of us had never worked in a bank. It was SO comforting to know that the other two newbies were struggling as much as I was to follow directions and remember procedures. The scariest part is going to be learning to identify counterfeits. Right now, I suspect every check I see of being faked and want to examine it closely. I can just see myself with lines of 20 or 30 people, waiting impatiently to get their turn at Miss Pokey-Teller's window.

Last week was training in a meeting room. The next two weeks are training in a real bank, with real live customers depositing & withdrawing real live money. The one delight in seeing my schedule for the next two weeks is that I don't work Saturdays yet (because my mentor doesn't work Saturdays) ... so I get to go to Lessons&Carols rehearsal next week and sing and sing and sing. Singing Christmas hymns can be antidote to whatever is wrong in life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


In a conversation last week, several people were talking about their cool "vintage purse" or "vintage sweater" or "vintage bowl" or "vintage chair." I sat there quietly, listening, not wanting to reveal that I didn't know what "vintage" meant. Silly me -- I thought "vintage" had something to do with vines (as in, grape harvests or wine) or possibly something classy and old.

Turns out that "vintage" apparently is the new word for "used." If you have a hand-me-down purse that's 3 years old, it's just "used." But if your used purse is 20 years old, then it's "vintage" and you can consider yourself classy and trendy-but-with-respect-for-recycling.

Huh. And here I thought "used" covered "antique" and "vintage" and "used." Color me cheap.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Despised and Afflicted

From Good Friday's Old Testament reading --
He is despised and rejected by men,
a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Try reading that once with an emphasis on the pronouns. HE is despised, and WE hid OUR faces from HIM. Surely HE has borne OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows. Yet WE esteemed HIM stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

That's pretty warped. He took our punishment, and we hated Him for it. We deserved an eternal thumping, didn't get it, and looked down the one who endured it for us.

But now look at Psalm 22, which we hear late on Maundy Thursday, during the stripping of the altar:
He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
nor has He hidden His face from Him;
but when He cried to Him, He heard.

Jesus was afflicted so that we might be spared. We despised Him for it, but the Father did not. "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." It pleased the Father that His Son rescued us. Jesus did not despise what He had to do. The Father did not hide His face from the ugliness of what our sin did to Jesus, but heard His prayer and raised Him up. The Father did not hide His face from the ugliness of what our sin did to Jesus, but mankind did.

Still, even with that kind of response from sinners, still He died that we might be His own.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Frontline Plus

We seldom deal with fleas here. When the cats run across a flea or two, they usually take care of it themselves and don't become infested. On occasion, I have to apply Frontline Plus. That usually only happens once or twice a year; I don't keep up with dosing them every 4-6 weeks.

Last time I needed the drugs, I ordered online instead of buying it from the local vet or pet-supply store. I'm not doing that again. I don't know what's different, but the fleas seem to be merely suppressed, and they make a return shortly before the 4-week mark. It may be cheaper per bottle to buy from Pet Meds, but it has turned out to be more expensive because I need a lot more bottles.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

We sing it every Advent. It's from Psalm 24:
Lift up your heads, o you gates,
and be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of Glory shall come in.

What gates?
Gates of heaven?
Gates of Jerusalem?
The doors of our hearts?
The pastors?
And where are these "heads"? On us or on the gates?
Even though I hear this often in hymns and sermons, I still don't know what it's about.

And then in Didache recently, we were discussing the Second Coming. In Mark 13, as He speaks of both the crucifixion and His coming at the Last Day, Jesus says, "When you see all these things happening, know that it is near -- at the doors!"

Doors, eh?

And then He tells them to watch: "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch." You have to lift up your head to watch for something.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Causes of the Civil War

Slavery versus abolition?
Nationalism versus states' rights?
You hear both sides.

Tonight as Andrew and I were listening to a presentation on the Civil War, I think I finally figured out something. Both issues brought on Southern secession.

Basically, the states that seceded between Lincoln's election and inauguration were the southern Southern states that wanted to protect the institution of slavery and even expand it by importing more slaves and making slaves cheaper to buy so that everybody could have one. But the northern Southern states were waffling; they were still in the USA when Lincoln became president. Virginia and the other border states bailed on the USA and joined the CSA after Fort Sumter. For them, nationalism could not overcome the thought of the federal government trampling states' rights.

This makes sense to me. That would be why you hear primary-source material which sounds, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as if the war were most certainly fought over the issue of slavery and because some Americans thought dark-skinned people weren't really people but property. And yet other primary-source material just as clearly and surely makes the case that the war was not about slavery but about political power. The viewpoint would depend on which part of the South we're talking about, and when they left the Union, and why.

Not Bored!!!!

So Maggie comments on how there aren't that many days until Christmas, but still Christmas seems So Far Away because, y'know, she doesn't really have anything to do ...

... and ...

... uh ...

"No! I didn't mean that! I'm not bored! I have things to do! Yes! I do! It's just that it seems so far to Christmas, but .... uh .... REALLY! I AM NOT BORED!"

Around here, "I'm bored" is met with plenty of suggestions. There's a bathroom to clean, dishes to wash, and a myriad of other chores. The look on Maggie's face as she realized, mid-sentence, what she was saying to her mom ... priceless!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Homeschooling: An Intellectually Stimulating Job

On Saturday I was chatting with a woman at Gary's company Christmas party. She had just started her job about five weeks earlier and had been very nervous, just as I am about my new job. She said that, the week before she started, she kept thinking of all the things that might go wrong. But after she started, she found the job to be so intellectually stimulating. She promised me I'd find the same thing after being at home with kids for so many years.

A job? Intellectually stimulating?

My job for the last couple of decades has been exceptionally varied. I have managed my own time and priorities. I have taught children with various strengths, weaknesses, skills, motivations, and learning styles. Just recently, I have played with exponents and graphed quadratic functions, read literature set during World War I, studied different economic systems, explored the causes and results of the Mexican-American War, and read about statistical analysis and how it can be abused and twisted for propaganda's sake. Over the years I have studied more about the Civil War and whales and mountains and Shakespeare than I ever dreamed anyone could know. I have repaired large and small appliances. I have delved into the intricacies of my daughter's birth defects, cardiovascular system, speech therapy, and learning disabilities. I took on gardening and canning. I have become a superb cook and bread-baker, and I know an awful lot about nutrition and a little about herbology and alternative medical care. If I'm not the Queen of Frugal, I am at least a contender for the crown, and that takes creativity and hard work. I stayed up on politics, testified at hearings at the state capitol on various pieces of legislation, and led homeschooling workshops for hundreds of parents. I have edited theology books and articles by Scaer, Korby, Bender, and Fabrizius.

And somebody thinks, in comparison to this (this just-a-housewife job), being a bank teller will be intellectually stimulating?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Seeing All Those Families

Gary's business celebrated yesterday with their annual Christmas party. I was struck again and again by how many employees said, "It's SO NICE to see all the families here, to see all the kids!" The owner, too, commented to us as well as to the whole assembly about how great it was to see all the spouses and the kids. Such a happy day!

And it is nice to see how the bosses and co-workers enjoy seeing each other's families. It is super that the company includes kids in the Christmas party and the annual zoo outing. I like it that they do this.

And yet, there's this little voice in me that says it's sad that families are separated so much of the time. It's sad that mommies and daddies are away from their children for their workday. It's sad that families are not working together in their cottage industry and the garden and the kitchen and the workshop, maintaining a home and business together.

Yes, it is a great blessing to have a job with an income, and a great blessing to be in a family-friendly work environment. But wouldn't it be lovely if families were together so that a "family-friendly work environment" seemed oxymoronic to most of us?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Scamming Yourself

No matter how much I convince myself to maintain a reasonable perspective, no matter how much I hang onto the Gospel, no matter how much I tell myself that everything's going to be all right (and think I'm believing that),

cold sores and an upset tummy show me up.

My doggone body betrays the reality of my unbelief when my mind and heart may think they are set aright.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Miscarriage and "The Necessity of Baptism"

So Wednesday morning in chapel (after Rachel called about the baby but while there was still a smidge of hope that the ultrasound might find a heartbeat), we prayed in the Great Litany for expectant mothers. And then on Thursday morning we had the story of Leah and Rachel and their children. And then during Bible class we discussed the article in the Augsburg Confession on baptism and how baptism is "necessary for salvation."

Bonnie asked about the thief on the cross. Pastor's mini-answer was that we don't know he wasn't baptized. But then the main answer: even if he wasn't, Jesus said, "Today you will be with Me in paradise." Jesus' word is what matters!! Pastor also pointed out that "without God's word, the water is plain water, but with the Word of God, it is a baptism, that is, a life-giving water." In other words, it is the Word which makes baptism what it is. It is the Word that has the power. It is the Word of God which saves, which imparts faith, which forgives sin.

I had to ask after class about little babies who die before baptism. In my intellect, I knew the answer. But I still needed to hear the answer.

Pastor re-spoke what he had said in class about the malefactor on the cross. He reminded me of God's desire to save the baby and that this child's lack of baptism would not thwart God's eternal plan. He reminded me that the baby had been hearing God's word. (And none of that "but the baby doesn't have ears yet." Go look at Romans 10:17 and all the stories where Jesus healed the deaf -- God's word creates hearing even when the person doesn't have the physical equipment to hear the gospel which is being preached to him.)

Pastor pointed out 1 Corinthians 7:14, where it says the unbelieving wife is sanctified by her Christian husband, and the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his Christian wife, and how their children are holy. He reminded me that "the Word of God is the only holy thing we have" and that is what Paul is referring to in his advice on marriage. But this also means that the Word of God spoken and sung in the lives of the parents is how the Holy Spirit is working faith in their children, "when and where He pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not by our own merits, but by the merits of Christ, when we believe this."

And for the sake of my small brain which needs pictures and illustrations and simple explanations, he gave me an analogy. Nutrition is necessary that the baby might grow and live physically. Babies get their nutrition by suckling at the breast. But does that mean they don't get any nutrition before birth, just because they cannot yet suckle? Of course not. How silly. Things are different before birth. God provides nutrition in a different way prior to birth. In the same way, Jesus' blood is necessary to cover sin. God's Word delivers His atonement to us. But there are some differences in how that merciful blood is delivered to us before and after birth. (Okay, it's not a perfect analogy. But it's good. And it helps.)

Jesus took on human flesh in the womb of His mother Mary. He joined Himself to us that He might save His little brothers, even the ones still in the womb. "He was little, weak, and helpless. Tears and smiles like us He knew. And He feeleth for our sadness. And He shareth in our gladness." He became man and died for our sin that our babies might have the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. For the promise IS "to you and to your children."

Okay, y'all didn't need to hear that, I suspect. But I needed to write it out.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Sometimes, when you most need to hear "I'm sorry for your loss" and comfort and sympathy, that's when you don't want to hear it. When love and support are verbally expressed, your tough perseverance flies out the window.

Children of the heavenly Father
safely in His bosom gather.
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
such a refuge e'er was given!

After a long wait, Rachel and Matt were expecting a baby mid-summer. The baby died this weekend.

Neither life nor death shall ever
from the Lord His children sever.
Unto them His grace He showeth,
and their sorrows all He knoweth.

Sometimes it's hard to go to church when you're suffering. It can be emotional. Hearing the solid truth of God's love and tender mercy may make you cry. And yet, where else is there help and rescue?

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne'er forsaketh.
His the loving purpose solely
to preserve them pure and holy.

Temples Made With Hands

Surely in temples made with hands
God the Most High is not dwelling.
High above earth His temple stands,
all earthly temples excelling.

Those lines from "Built on the Rock" have long bothered me. God does come to our churches. His preaching lays Him on our hearts. His body lies on the altar and is fed into our mouths. His blood washes over our children in baptism.

And yet, those lines from the hymn reflect Acts 7 and Isaiah 66. How can you argue with the Bible?

Pastor talked on Sunday how God had told David that his son would be the one to build the temple (2 Samuel 7:12-13). And his son Solomon did build a temple of cedar and gold. But his Son Jesus was the true Tabernacle, the true Temple, the eternal temple that could not be destroyed forever by Babylonians or by Roman soldiers. And when His body was destroyed, in three days He raised it up (John 2:19).

So God does not dwell in temples made with hands: rather, He dwells in temples made with His word. Our physical buildings are indeed His dwelling place -- but only when they are built by His word which flows forth to sanctify the place, the preacher, and the hearers.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Stephen's Sermon

In Acts 6, Saul/Paul and the other men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen stirred up the people so that Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin. They said he was preaching this Jesus who wanted to overturn the Law. They said he wanted to change the customs Moses delivered.

Pastor pointed out on Sunday that
1) they didn't really know what the Law was; they saw it as a bunch of rules that they could follow if they tried hard enough; they didn't get it that the Law showed them their sin and that atonement was necessary.
2) their fathers hadn't loved Moses even "back in the day"; the Israelites murmured constantly against Moses and even tried to overthrow him.

The point is that sinners always reject the one who comes with God's salvation. God's messengers cannot expect to be embraced and loved.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Andrew was accepted into the RN program he applied for. He's in the process of updating his vaccinations. His program planning meeting is middle of next week. They'll have to do a criminal background check -- I think he'll pass. Now we just have to figure out a way to buckle down to the schoolwork again after Thanksgiving, while also making adjustments to having me gone to work so much of the time.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


The Spirit and Church cry out:
Come, Lord Jesus.
All those who await His appearance pray:
Come, Lord Jesus.
The whole creation pleads:
Come, Lord Jesus.

Washer Repair

Having lost a pair of jeans, I went exploring in the laundry room. Ah ha -- a load of laundry was sitting in the washer. Since Wednesday. Ick. So I pour in a little vinegar and put it on a second spin cycle. When I come back later, the machine is sitting there, full of water, unable to drain and spin. Oh no!

I love the internet! I found possible causes for the problem. I found a video that told me how to take the cabinet off the machine. (I've taken the washer apart before to do repairs, but as I blunder my way through it on my own, I end up taking apart a lot of things that don't need to be dismantled. I love the videos that tell you where to start and what to do next!) We discovered which part was broken. Gary duct-taped the lid switch in place so that the machine is usable if we treat it gently and use it as little as possible. I ordered the replacement parts online, and they should be here in a week.

This is a whole lot better than a $70 housecall fee and $50-100/hour for the repairman.

(Crossing fingers in hopes that we don't still need to call a professional to install the parts.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shoe Shopping

If someone were on heart medicine or depression medication or a thyroid prescription, I suspect people would understand if the person was worried about going off his medicine. How is this going to work? What's going to happen to me? How will I cope with the changes? But I don't think the person would be told that the medicine was just a crutch or that "everybody else manages without it."

We have found ways to cope with Maggie's vcfs, poverty [well, y'know, American-style poverty], depression, foot pain, and assorted health problems that came from living in The House Of Mildew. Thing is, quite a few of those coping mechanisms are out-the-window with my starting a job. That makes me nervous. We've got some problems to solve. Hopefully, having the whole family pitch in with the work and cutting back on the standards will help resolve some issues. There needs to be some serious reconsideration of Maggie's education, goals, methods, resources, support, etc. Ack -- thinking! Ack -- decisions!

But I think one problem is solved -- the shoes. I have spent between 20 and 25 hours shoe-shopping in the last week. (I hate shopping.) I buy shoes, bring 'em home, wear 'em indoors for an hour, and take 'em back. Driving home from the shoe store again on Wednesday, I was ready to phone the bank and tell them to give the job to somebody else: it was too overwhelming to consider going back to the world of that much pain in my feet and legs. But hooray hooray -- I found something online that looks like it should work. The H.R. Dept at the bank okayed the shoes for being professional enough; the shoes are nearly as flat as my tennies; they are open-toed with adjustable straps in the vicinity of my bunions; and [ta da!!] they will accommodate the orthoses I wear in my tennies all day every day. I am utterly overjoyed at the prospect of wearing something that's not going to have me in tears at the end of the day, that's not going to require pain meds and ice packs every evening.

Somehow, this is a massive relief. The other problems no longer seem insurmountable. (Lord, have mercy: I sure do hope that these shoes turn out to be what I expect them to be, and not too short.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today's Laugh

This is lifted off the internet; it is about neither me nor my mother.

This is more embarrassing for my mother than for me because I wasn't quite four years old when it happened. My mother taught me to read when I was 3 years old (her first mistake). One day I was in the bathroom and noticed one of the cabinet doors was ajar. I read the box in the cabinet. I then asked my mother why she was keeping napkins in the bathroom. Didn't they belong in the kitchen? Not wanting to burden me with unnecessary facts she told me that those were for special occasions.

Now fast forward a few months. It's Thanksgiving Day, and my folks are leaving to pick up the pastor and his wife for dinner. Mom had assignments for all of us while they were gone. Mine was to set the table. You guessed it! When they returned, the pastor came in first and immediately burst into laughter. Next came his wife who gasped, then began giggling. Next came my father, who roared with laughter. Then came mom, who almost died of embarrassment when she saw each place setting on the table with a "special occasion" napkin at each plate, with the fork carefully arranged on top. I had even tucked the little tails in so they didn't hang off the edge. My mother asked me why I used these and, of course, my response sent the other adults into further fits of laughter. "But Mom, you SAID they were for special occasions!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today's Laugh

We visited our newly married daughter, who was preparing her first Thanksgiving dinner. Her father noticed the turkey thawing in the kitchen sink with a dish drainer inverted over the bird. He asked why a drainer covered the turkey.

She looked at me and said, "Because Mom always did it that way."

"Yes," I replied, "but you don't have a cat!"

(adapted from A. C. Stokers, Jr.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Spread of His Glory

The chorale version of the Sanctus goes:
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth.
His glory fills the heavens and the earth.

(See also Isaiah 6.)

So, if the glory of God is seen chiefly in the love and mercy which moved Him to lay down His life and suffer for our sake,

then is His glory spread through the whole earth when Christians suffer for the sake of the Gospel? They may be martyred. They may be persecuted. They may bear the sins of others, returning love and forgiveness when they are mistreated. And that goes on through the whole earth, year after year, decade after decade, in little ways and big ways, filling up the whole earth with mercy. Granted, when we poor sinners suffer for the sake of the Gospel, it is a mere hint of Jesus' suffering, and when we show mercy we are still tainted by sin.

Remember in Acts where it says Luke's gospel was "all that Jesus began to do and teach"? It was because Jesus continued "doing and teaching" through the apostles, as recorded in Acts. Maybe the glory of His sacrificial love continues to spread through the world via His Christians.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Zion Hears the Watchmen Singing

The pastor --the watchman-- sings: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread. And when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'Take, eat, this is My body' ...."

Zion hears the watchmen singing,
and all her heart with joy is springing.
She wakes, she rises from her gloom
for her Lord comes down all glorious,
the strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her star is risen. Her light is come.
Now come,
Thou blessed one,
Lord Jesus,
God's own Son.
Hail, hosanna!
We enter all
the wedding hall
to eat the Supper at Thy call.

Her Lord comes down to the altar, to join Himself to us in the bread and wine.

And we sing Hosanna. (We do, don't we? That's in the communion liturgy.)

The pastors (the watchmen) are called to guard and protect us. Therefore they call to us in the sermon to awaken us that we might go forth to meet our Lord at the altar.

Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
let men and angels sing before Thee
with harp and cymbals' clearest tone.

"With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name ...."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today's Laugh

Two men walked into a bar, the third one ducked.

From Glenda. :-)

Interview Results

The job interview went well. I liked the manager of the branch. But what I liked most is that this is a job that appears to have no ethical dilemmas for me. I'm sorry if this is offensive, folks, but I would have a very hard time working at McDonalds, selling pop and burgers on white buns. And I would have a hard time working at Kohl's, where you have to convince a certain number of people to take credit cards if you want to be scheduled for more hours. My heart leapt when the manager was describing to me that our bank does not push credit cards and push loans; yes, they offer them, and when people want those things we'd prefer they get them from us rather than a competitor. But we don't try to sell people on a product that will not be to their best interest. The manager and personnel director also talked about the importance of family and how the job should take us away from family as little as possible. And they told me that they are closed for holidays and will never open on Sundays as some banks are beginning to do.

They offered me the job. Training week (full-time) starts December 6. After that I suppose it will seem like a vacation to go to half-time.

Luckily I found a black blazer at Goodwill with unreasonably long sleeves; they actually come down to my wrist. But finding professional-looking shoes is going to be another problem -- orthotic inserts, plus something in my bizarre size. I think the entire paycheck for the full-time week is going to go for a pair of shoes (well, that and the taxes ...).

You know what? Every time we have a major change in life, it is preceded by a van wreck. Next time there is a huge change in the wings, I think I'm going to walk everywhere.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Today's Laugh

Dragon #1 - Am I late for dinner?

Dragon #2 - Yes, everyone's eaten.

Thanks, Ruth, for letting me steal a joke!

Saying Goodbye

When people move away, they often take leave of friends with promises to keep in touch. They plan to get together at times and to remain friends. That usually doesn't happen. Distance interferes with relationships. Of course, some long-distance relationships can be maintained with much effort (phone calls, letters, pictures) and sometimes an old friendship can pick up right where you left off when there is that rare chance to visit and revel temporarily in the closeness you once shared. Nevertheless, at the time of separation, those intentions to Keep In Touch provide comfort during the transition.

I'm wondering if the same thing happens when a person begins a new life. How long do young married couples remain in close contact with their single buddies, especially after babies arrive? Do widows continue to hang out with the couple-friends they once enjoyed being with? When a person leaves one lifestyle and begins something very different, it may be wishful thinking to plan to hang onto certain aspects of the former lifestyle. But is that wishful thinking part of how we cope with change? If I begin to work outside the home and have to admit to myself right now that I will have to give up writing and bread-baking and daily chapel and online friendships, will that make the prospect too overwhelming to contemplate? Or do I need to be honest with myself about those things so that I don't beat myself to a pulp trying to do it all?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Teaching Yourself

Some people think that high-schoolers should be able to teach themselves. They say that homeschooled kids should be trained to read and study and digest information so that, by the time they are 12-16, they will have become quite adept at doing their schoolwork without involvement from Mom.

That happens for some kids. Especially when they are highly motivated to absorb that particular type of information. But what happens when they want to do their schoolwork and do it well, but aren't particularly interested in the topic for its own sake?

What's so bad about needing a teacher? Is a kid a failure because he can't set up an educational program for himself and figure out the material from a book or video? Don't a lot of homeschooled kids take college classes in their teen years? Why? Because sometimes it's just plain easier to learn to use lab equipment or to understand the causes of the Spanish-American War or to repair a lawnmower engine when you've got somebody to teach you. Isn't that why we have colleges? It's easier to master the material when a master is helping to explain it and make it clear.

I don't think it's bad (or selfish or untrusting) of a teacher to think that her students would be better off if they were taught instead of trying to figure things out on their own.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

John 19:7

When Pilate told the Jews that he found no fault in Jesus, they responded,

We have a law,
and according to our law He ought to die,
because He made Himself the Son of God.

They believed in a law of works. They believed that the Torah taught them to follow the rules. One of the rules was that blasphemers must be put to death. They believed that Jesus was not the Son of God, and thus, according to their law, He ought to die.

Twisted as this is, though, there is truth in their statement. In the story of Jesus' suffering and death, it seems that unbelievers said an awful lot of true things. Problem was, they invested those true statements with screwball errant meanings.

The truth of the matter is that the Torah and the whole Old Testament did indeed require the Son of God to die. The Law could not be fulfilled by sinful man. But the Lord took on flesh so that He might die the sinners death. And all the Law (that is, the Old Testament) pointed to that death that would come in the fullness of time. As Jesus taught the Emmaus disciples, the entire Old Testament was about Him and the redemption He wrought.

Though He had done nothing deserving of death,
according to our law, He ought to die.
And He did.

Today's Laugh

Bryce pointed out this t-shirt to us:

May the
be with you.

(The arrangement of the words on the t-shirt
is funnier than the way I can put it here.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today I was invited in for a job interview at the bank. It's not our local branch (close enough to walk or bike) but it's not too far away. Twenty hours a week -- two days 10-6:00 and Saturday mornings. The appointment is Thursday afternoon.

His Blood Be Upon Us

Pilate was trying to let Jesus go. But the people kept insisting. Finally Pilate washes his hands of it: "This ain't my fault! YOU asked for this." And the people were fine with that: "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matthew 27:25).

As Pastor says, it must be so. Salvation is found nowhere else but when His blood is upon us.

In Acts, the same Sanhedrin that murdered Jesus was facing another crew of trouble-makers. These dudes who'd been with Jesus were preaching in the temple. The Council nabbed the apostles, put 'em on trial, and then scolded them and told them to shut up and leave (Acts 4). And the Church grew.

A little time passes, and the apostles are caught preaching in the temple again (Acts 5). That same Sanhedrin rounded up the apostles again and threw them in jail to hush them. God did not approve. He let his preachers out of the jail. The next day, when it was time for the trial, the apostles weren't in their jail cell; they were preaching in the temple again. Can't you just hear the chief priests and Pharisees asking, "How many times do we have to drag those guys out of the temple anyhow?"

So they're finally questioning the men. That's when we get to the funny part. The high priest says, Didn't we tell you to shut up? And here you are filling the whole city with your teaching, and you "intend to bring this Man's blood on us."

Hello??? Annas and Caiaphas were ring-leaders early on that Friday morning when the crowds insisted to Pilate that His blood should be on them. And yet, they didn't really want His blood.

Jesus' disciples, however, did want exactly that. They intended to bring Jesus' blood on the high priest and all the Sanhedrin. NOT to make them bear the guilt and pay the price. Not to get them in trouble with the crowds or with the government. But to bring the blood of forgiveness. To wash them in the blood that bore their guilt so that they would not have to pay the price themselves.

Waxing the Floor

Sundown comes early these days. While cleaning this weekend, I ended up vacuuming the hall under lightbulbs instead of during the sunshiny hours. The direction of the light showed me something I haven't noticed before. The hall carpet really needs a good shampooing. (Okay, everybody say "Booooo! Hissssss!" with me.) What's interesting is noticing the pattern of dirt and clean along the hall floor.

Don Aslett says you only put one thin coat of wax around the edges of the floor. Put the multi-layers in the middle of the room, where you're walking all the time, spilling, smudging, dropping things, and generally wearing out the floor. You should almost never put wax near the baseboards or in the corners.

Interestingly, there has been no traffic on the 8" next to the walls on either side of the hallway. The path into the rooms shows a 6" edge of clean carpet near the door hinges, but only a 3" edge of clean carpet on the side where the doorknob is. That should give me a good guideline for other floors in the house.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hidden in My Heart

I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
From the great assembly. (Psalm 40:10)

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You!
Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes!
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth. (Psalm 119:11-13)

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

Not hidden?

Interesting to ponder that distinction...
and how the Word hidden in our hearts will result in speaking His righteous judgments, declared of us in Baptism and preached in mercy to sinners. When the Word is hidden in our hearts, we cannot help but reveal that same Word.

Math for Medical Professionals

It looks to me as though Andrew has been doing well at math. His test grades are great. But he doesn't feel as though he has an adequate grasp of it. We talked to the director of the nursing program at the local college about math. She confirmed what I suspected: it's far more important that he be very comfortable with the arithmetic and pre-algebra that is used extensively in nursing than it is that he graph functions, manipulate matrices, and compute with imaginary numbers.

So it's time to put away the College Algebra book and come up with a math program that better suits his goals.

I began to research what kinds of math we needed to focus on. Graphs. Statistics. Conversions. Metric. Ratios -- lots of ratios and percents. And so much more. As I began to cobble together resources from the library with the books sitting on our basement shelves, it finally crossed my mind that maybe I should sell this program after I put the work into developing it.

And then [light-bulb moment] I wondered if anyone had already created this math course. Some online sleuthing confirmed that someone had! Woo hoo!!!! The book arrived in only six days, and it looks perfect. There is only one thing on my list (understanding a 3-D reality from a series of 2-D pictures, such as in an MRI) that isn't covered in this book.

Flipping through the textbook I see a few topics that aren't explained clearly enough, or where a key point was left out. But if it's something that Andrew hasn't been exposed to elsewhere, I should be able to fill in the gap. The answer key is online, not in the back of the book. That's a little inconvenient; I had to fork over my name and address and all that jazz to create an account where I could access the answer key. I suppose I could have just graded the homework assignments myself. But I didn't want to. :-)

So anyway, I am hyped to have discovered this book that will save me many hours. It will allow Andrew to plug away at teaching himself instead of having to wait on me while I'm making supper instead of developing new lessons. Hooray!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today's Laugh

A cartoon for middle-aged women who are thinking ahead to Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Growing in Faith

Listening to Pastor Petersen on Issues Etc (July 15, 2010) as I cleaned today --
As you grow in faith, experientially, the way we feel it, it feels like we're getting worse, because the stronger your faith is, the weaker it feels. Strong faith never says, "I'm strong." St Paul writes, "When I am weak, then I am strong." Faith is at its strongest when it is at its weakest because that is when it is most dependent upon grace, upon Jesus Christ.
Then he goes on to describe how we might feel on Christmas Eve when we're sentimental and surrounded by family and singing about Jesus being born. When we have a spiritual mountaintop experience and are happy, then we feel that our faith is strong. Contrast that to when we're in the emergency room with a loved one who may die, when we are heartbroken, when we are terrified and cannot pray anything but "Lord, have mercy."

Quoting again:
Sanctification, a process of growing in faith, growing in good works, is a strange process in that there is a growth. But we don't feel it like a growth. We become more aware of our sins the holier we become.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today's Laugh

A Non Sequitur cartoon about the Wilderness Wanderings.

Luke's "Immanuel"

In Matthew's gospel (and only Matthew's gospel) the angel tells Joseph that Mary's Son shall be named Jesus, for He is the one prophesied in Isaiah: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel which is translated, "God with us."

But look at Luke. Gabriel comes to Mary. He comes to the virgin to announce the birth of the Messiah. Mary checks on his story: how she could bear a Son when she has not known a man? Sure enough, the angel's answer meshes with the prophecy of Isaiah 7. But not only that, the angel greets her with "The Lord is with you." That too rings true with the same portion of Isaiah's prophecy which names Him Immanuel.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Most Expensive Hamburger Ever

Yesterday started with difficulty. But we did some schoolwork, and that was good.

We went to a public health immunization clinic to begin catching up Andrew on his shots before he starts nurses' training. Happily we discovered that the rules changed and that they now allow 18-yr-olds to get shots at public health. Not only that, he pays at the kids' rate for 10 more months. We should be able to get him caught up by then if we're diligent about being there nearly every time.

Then we hit the library and bumped into one of Andrew's bosses. Andrew introduced me, and Ken had so many good things to say about Andrew and his intelligence and his work ethic. He said they'd love to have all their employees be just like Andrew. Yeah! So that was happy.

Then I had to make a trip over to Watertown to pick up our quarter of a beef. A suicidal deer crossed the highway. I saw her and slowed down a lot before we collided. (Shoot, I wonder now, if I had gunned it, maybe she would have just clipped the back of the car instead?) I am fine; the van was drivable; the airbag did not deploy. I came home, put the beef in the freezer, and noticed the engine steaming. This morning we discover that we need to fix
-- the headlights
-- the left blinker
-- the grill
-- the radiator
-- the condenser for the AC (optional)
-- the hood (optional).
There's no insurance; this is the van that was totaled when a guy blew off a stop sign directly in front of me three years ago. So we get to pay for this out of pocket or start hunting for a new vehicle or start walking/biking.

After I pay the farmer who raised the cow, the butcher, and the car repairs, this is going to be $10/pound hamburger. Do you ever wonder why you even try?

He Has Visited His People

In recent years I have been pondering Jesus' words to the Emmaus disciples when He "expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24). I've been watching for little bits of Jesus hidden in the Old Testament, things that those saints would have seen as God's working on their behalf, but may not have recognized to be specifically about the Messiah. With hindsight we can see some of those references to Jesus. In the same way, you know there are things in the Bible that we scratch our heads over now, things which will be obvious at the Last Day. Anyway, it's fun to be able to look at those stories with Jesus in view. Not long ago we had the story of Ruth.

Naomi and her family left Bethlehem during a famine. They went to Moab. About ten years later, when the three men had died, Naomi heard that "Yahweh had visited His people by giving them bread" (Ruth 1:6).

Now, I am totally clear on the fact that there had been a famine and it had ended. God was giving them food for their bellies. This is straight-up history.

But this is also a theological truth about Jesus. The story of Ruth does not inform us that God gave them food; it says He gave them bread. When the Bread of Life (still in His momma's womb) had been staying with Zachariah and Elizabeth, Zachariah sang, "The Lord God of Israel has visited and redeemed His people" (Luke 1:68).

Next Sunday, when we see the Bread of Life on the altar and taste Him on our tongues, we will know that Yahweh has visited us, His people.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Honor Your Father and Your Mother

A loving dad or mom will teach the children to honor the parents. It better not be an ego-trip for the parents. Honoring the authorities has the benefit of maintaining order in the family or in society. But another very important reason to teach children to honor parents (and teach Christians to honor their pastors) is so that the children will not become self-centered. Honoring parents forces the children to focus outside themselves instead of indulging their own desires and own plans. And that is a good thing for the children, their family, their neighbors, and their own souls.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Suppose There Were 50 Righteous

Our Bible story today was Abraham's prayer the day before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. You know the story. The Lord comes to Abraham and tells him what He's going to do. Abraham intercedes. If there are fifty righteous, would You spare the city? 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? And the Lord promised to spare the city if He could find ten Christians there. This story is often told to encourage us in prayer: be bold, be persistent, ask according to the promise!

We know the end of the story. That day, as he was praying, Abraham didn't know the end of the story. That night he didn't know the end of the story. The next morning, Abraham woke up early and went out to the place he had begged the Lord to spare the cities (Genesis 19:27). And what did he find when he looked toward Sodom? The city had been zotted big-time!

Does it look to Abraham as if the Lord cared about his prayer?

The Bible doesn't even tell us how long it was before Abraham got word that Lot and his daughters were still alive. Next thing we know, Abraham is down south, passing off Sarah as his sister again. And God blesses him with more wealth, gives him his wife back, and then gives them a son -- keeping His promise even when Abraham faltered.

You know what? I think this story isn't so much for "prayer warriors" as it is for those of us who pray and don't see "results."

Job Satisfaction

Sometimes it comes up in conversation that Andrew is looking at colleges. A few months ago he was considering what he might want to study, what career he might like. Acquaintances would inquire. And that's when I got the shocker.

Nobody seems to like what they do.

When we said that he was considering law enforcement or security, we were told by cops or ex-cops that that would be a terrible profession to enter. Too dangerous. Too political.

When we said that he was considering computer work or engineering, people told us what was wrong with that.

When we said he thought he might be a nurse, he was told how horrible that was, especially with all the record-keeping that can seem like it takes priority over patient-care.

Teachers and day-care workers have told me how terrible their jobs are. Children are undisciplined and mean; parents are blindly protective of Little Junior who would never do anything wrong.

Small-business owners know the troubles of taxes and regulations and finding good employees. Factory workers are tired of the mundane work and the health repercussions. Pastors are frustrated with the low pay and never-ending needs. Clerical workers develop carpel tunnel syndrome and must tolerate business/marketing lingo. Chefs and cooks put in many years at poverty-level salaries and work late hours and long weekends. Maids clean up after piggy slobs who 'get back at the man' by leaving a bigger mess than would be normal.

I've been trying to figure out why so many people discourage kids from going into their line of work. Is this a societal problem, and nurses and teachers and policemen and maids really are serving a nasty populace? Is this a change in employers, and how they see employees as just another [replaceable] cog in the machinery of creating a product? Or do we all desire vacation and retirement, resenting our work because jobs thwart our fun-time?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Trying Another Resume

Upon watching election returns, I came to agree with Gary that the opening at the bank might be more attractive than the opening at the library. At this point, the private sector seems a little more secure than jobs for a government entity. I prepared a resumé for the bank, filled out the application, and dropped it off today. The assistant manager was smiling from ear to ear when she saw me walk in with the application.

It is quite intimidating to sketch out your life in minimalistic words, drop it off for a stranger to evaluate, and wonder if they will recognize any value in your life & work & intelligence & worth.


Because some of y'all are not Facebook-friends with my kids, I would like to announce that I have two pregnant daughters. Katie is due in late April. Rachel is due about the third week of July. This should be fun!

Sunday, November 07, 2010


It was a busy week. Katie and Nathan and Alia began moving into their new apartment last Saturday. That took a couple of days. Tuesday morning was the first day we woke up and Alia wasn't here. Oh, sadness! Sunshine has moved over to the other side of town. When they located the apartment a month ago, Andrew summarized how much we'd miss them with "But with Alia here, there's always something FUN to do. It's never boring with her around!" (Maggie, on the other hand, responded to news of Katie's new place with "But then who's going to do all the cleaning??" Boy, I bet Katie feels loved....)

Tuesday it was time to begin resettling ourselves back into the vacated spots, moving contents of cupboards, bookshelves, closets, and Andrew's bedroom. Gary thought it would be good to spruce up the bedroom while it was empty -- something we never did when we moved in. So we suddenly bought paint and went at it. (Painting is NOT something I do on a whim. It's something I fret about plan for ... for maybe a year or two. I do not rush into painting. This was weird.) Andrew did a vast majority of the work.

Yesterday I finally finished all the rearranging and crossed "moving" off the to-do list. It took a while because also we had a funeral this week, some time watching election returns and cheering, and then a college visit, which necessitated a pow-wow over Andrew's final year of homeschool curriculum and how we can best serve his plans.

Footnote 1 -- Katie and Nathan live 10 minutes away from us. They are about a mile from church, one block from the post office, one block from a small playground, and half-mile to the library & doozy playground. I should get some pictures, but right now parking over there is hard (in other words, it's illegal) because of construction on their street. Pretty soon.

Footnote 2 -- Across the front lawn of their apartment, across the road, across the empty lot, there is a train track. I haven't heard yet if Wheel-Girl has been mesmerized by the train, but it should provide some good entertainment for her.

Footnote 3 -- Can you believe that picture of Andrew painting? Edging along the ceiling without a ladder or a stepstool!

Cute Alia

When Alia and Katie came over today, at one point Alia suddenly went running down the hall -- probably to try to use the telephone. When she rounded the corner into my bedroom, she exclaimed over and over, "What. Happened. What. Happened?" When I caught up with her, I had no idea what had happened; I didn't see any evidence of a toddler-crime being committed. "I don't know, Alia. What happened?" She patted the stripped bed's mattress pad. "What. Happened?" Oh! She had never seen our bed while the sheets were being washed! That surprise sure caught her up short!

We spent about an hour raking and hauling leaves to the garden this afternoon. I was about to put the last batch into one of the long-empty raised beds. I noticed that some of the spring spinach had gone to seed and we had some baby spinach coming up there alongside the weeds. So before burying them under the leaves-for-compost, I nibbled some utterly delectable spinach. Alia showed up at my side. Desiring to brainwash the child expose her to more treats from the garden, I said, "Mmmmm! Spinach! Yummy yummy! Do you want some?" Of course she did. But when it went in her mouth, she wasn't so sure. "Mmmm. Here's more spinach for Grandma. OH, this is SO good." And I munched several more leaves, asked her if she wanted more, and she hesistantly accepted. Within ten minutes we had eaten all the baby spinach in the raised bed. She had tried to nab some ground ivy and some grass and some overgrown dandelion and some plantain. "No, Alia, those will taste nasty. Only eat what Grandma or Mommy gives you from the garden. This one is spinach -- yum yum. That one is ground ivy -- nasty. This other one is spinach -- yummy. No, don't eat the grass; that will taste nasty."

So after we wipe out the spinach and fill the bed with leaves, she runs around the backyard and plays. And then she found the spinach rows in the main garden. She picked them and ate them. "Yum, yum. Grandma 'pinach?" "Yes, Alia, I would love some; thank you; it's good!" And she knew what plants near the spinach not to eat. Pretty soon Katie made her way to the back yard and informed me that Alia does not like spinach.

I do love brainwashing children.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

An Everlasting Covenant

Today's Bible story was the Lord's covenant with Abraham, the name-change from Abram, and circumcision.

Genesis 17:13 is an amazing promise: "My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."

That's not just about circumcision. That applies to so many ways that God is incarnational. The covenant of circumcision showed in a man's flesh. But what about the Passover which was established as an everlasting ordinance (Exodus 12:24)? We eat Jesus flesh and drink His blood and have eternal life (John 6:54), putting on immortality (1 Corinthians 15). That is certainly "in your flesh" and also certainly an "everlasting covenant."

In addition to that, Christ Himself took on our flesh. His covenant is in our flesh --Christ took on our flesh-- and it has ramifications forever and ever.

Once in the blest baptismal waters
I put on Christ and made Him mine.
Now numbered with God's sons and daughters,
I share His peace and love divine.

His body and His blood I've taken
in His blest Supper, feast divine;
now I shall never be forsaken,
for I am His, and He is mine.
O God, for Jesus' sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day. (TLH 598)

This is no esoteric idea. This is no "concept." This is no theologically-tinged philosophy. This is concrete. This is about a God who did not stay afar off, but came down from heaven to help us, to join Himself to us, that we might in our flesh be saved by His promise, forever.

"And They Were Not Ashamed"

Recent stories in chapel and Didache have been from the first chapters of Genesis. We talked about how Adam and his wife were naked and they were not ashamed. Pastor mentioned that shame always results when you are not being what you were made to be, not doing what you were made to do. When we are who God made us to be, when we do what God made us to do, there is no shame.

But later, after Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from the Lord. They were ashamed.

For a long time, I have pondered the conversation among the persons of the Trinity after the fall into sin -- "man has become like One of Us, knowing good and evil." Which "One" said this?

Earlier in chapter 3, the devil tells Eve about eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. "You will not surely die." Okay, that part is a flat-out lie. "You will be like God, knowing good and evil." Is that part a lie? Hmmm. There appears to be some truth to that claim, seeing as how God Himself said the same thing at the end of chapter 3.

But now I'm wondering if the problem is wrapped up in Adam and Eve trying to be what God had not made them to be, and doing what God had not given them to do. They were the creatures. They were not God. It was not given them to be like God, knowing good and evil. And when they took it for themselves, sin and shame made them know evil in a way that they'd've been better off without.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Funeral Tonight

The All Saints service was planned for our regular midweek service. Then Pastor Goltermann (a retired pastor in the congregation) went to be with Jesus on Saturday evening. So his funeral was combined with the All Saints service.


Gary was just saying that, if you want to know what a church teaches, what they believe, what the pastor's focus is, go to the funerals. One of my friends mentioned tonight that she never used to go to funerals. But here ... here she tries to come to as many as she can. Funerals are some of the best services there are! An hour and 40 minutes tonight of "Behold a Host" and Revelation 7 and "Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care" and "For All the Saints" and the Beatitudes and "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending" and a sermon that could have been better only if it had been 2-3 times longer.

Pastor Goltermann grew up in the congregation where Gary did his student teaching. One of his congregations (three decades later) helped support Gary through seminary. He was pastor in Buckley during the 40s. He assisted Ed Suelflow at Walther Memorial. I managed to hold myself to only two times of "It's a Small World After All" this evening. :-)

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Beer-Batter Fish

Because I lost my mom's recipe and had to call her today to get it, I am posting this online as well as putting the card in my recipe box. Two places to hunt for missing recipes.

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

2 egg yolks
1/2 can beer (about 2/3 cup)
2 Tbsp oil or melted butter

Stir these together, just till blended.
Let stand an hour or more.

Begin heating frying oil.
Then beat two egg whites.
Fold whites into batter.
Dip fish into batter and deep-fry at 375.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vote Democrat

There is a conservative trend favoring Republicans and Tea Party candidates this election season. Those of you in Wisconsin who favor such politics may not want to vote a straight-party ticket, though.

The Democrat incumbent Secretary of State has been doing a relatively innocuous job for about 30 years. The Republican candidate has no political experience and has served in no elected position. This is not necessarily reason enough to vote against a person, even if he's next-in-line for governorship should both the governor and lieutenant governor go MIA. But this Republican candidate for Secretary of State works as a pastor of the "God Squad" in Milwaukee. He declared bankruptcy in 2003. He has been delinquent in paying bills which, he says, is nothing to be ashamed of. He desires to use the Secretary of State office to expand into social action such as crime, jobs, literacy, drugs, and abortion.

Now, for the rest of the races on Tuesday's ballot, go ahead and vote for the Republicans. Scott Walker for governor! Ron Johnson for senate! Schuller for treasurer! Yes!

(By the way, if you're looking for more information on the Attorney General's race, I think this article in the Isthmus is a good summary of the issues.)

Today's Laugh

Chris Cross, a tourist in Vienna, is going passed Vienna's Zentralfriedhof graveyard on October 31st. All of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source. Chris finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827. Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backward! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades Tim Burr, a friend, to return with him.

By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward. Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar. When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th. By the next day the word has spread and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward.

Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music.

"Oh, it's nothing to worry about," says the caretaker. "He's just decomposing!"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Clean Apartments

Yesterday Katie and Nathan signed a lease on an apartment ten minutes from here, a little closer to work, and closer to church too. Katie cleaned last night for a while. She worked on the kitchen this evening; I worked on the bathroom.

Katie cleans. Whenever she leaves an apartment, it is in better shape than when she took possession of it. It is frustrating to leave an immaculate apartment and then be docked on your security deposit because the apartment manager just assumes that he has to have a cleaning crew come in whenever there's a change in tenants. I have no idea what the cleaning crew did at their last apartment, but they obviously didn't even open the cupboards because Katie & Nathan were charged for destroying (or losing or stealing) an item that was left sitting in the cupboard.

Likewise, this new apartment was cleaned before Katie and Nathan took possession. And it wasn't bad. But there's the grunge on the refrigerator gasket. And caked-on soap drips on the underside of the bathtub soap holder. And it makes me shudder to think of the thick greasy goo on the ceiling fan in the kitchen. I don't think of myself as a good housekeeper. Adequate. Above average. But not consumed with perfection over our cleanliness level in the house. I suppose I have spots in the house that other people might be horrified at while I am blind to those problems. I suppose that the apartment's filthy spots might be something that only Katie and I care about. But still....

If I'm living with my own dirt, that's one thing. But moving into a place with somebody else's grunge, that's a different story.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Birthday Party

Wow! There are balloons that need to be hung for the celebration! There was a chocolaty spatula to lick a few minutes ago! There are streamers on the ceiling! This is a good day!

But I Really Wasn't Job-Hunting

Cashing a check at the bank this morning, it came up in casual conversation with the clerks that I was applying for a job at the library. They were thrilled to hear I was considering a part-time job. But I'm not supposed to work at the library according to the gals at the bank. I need to apply there. They neeeeed someone. They pushed an application on me. They didn't want me to leave; they wanted me to fill it in right then, wishing that the manager could hire me today.

What's going on????

I wonder how long I have to wait before I know whether I'll get an interview with the library. (Hours and pay at the bank and library are fairly similar. A little less on-your-feet time at the bank. The library doesn't have incessant background music. The bank has more windows.)

Maybe it's time to get a job?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Psalm 69:11-12

I became a byword to them.
Those who sit in the gate speak against me.
I am the song of drunkards.

If the psalms belong in the mouth of Christ [and by the way, they do] then it is interesting to see these verses in light of the cursing and swearing and foul language that permeate our society. Jesus' name IS used as the song of drunkards. It IS a byword.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tank-tops and Shells

It is supremely unfair that the time of life when a woman's hormones force her into sleeveless shirts is exactly when her upper arms are getting floppy and her elbows are getting wrinkly.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Writing a Resume

Checking out of our local library recently, I noticed the poster that said they're hiring. Although I need income, I haven't been looking too hard for a job, seeing as how I already have a job teaching the kids. But I've kept my eyes open, just in case the perfect job pops up.

And this is it! The hours don't interfere with chapel or church or choir. The job is in a building filled with [get this...] BOOKS. [Be still my heart!] The pay is decent; the hours are enough to make a difference to our budget but not too much to prevent all my frugality measures of cooking and gardening. It's the kind of job that requires attention to detail, organizing books and labels, and other tasks that fit my personality well and that I'm good at. It's close enough to bike, or even to walk if absolutely necessary. And the 'customers' are my neighbors who have willingly come to learn something! How cool is that?!?

So this week I've been learning about resumés and cover letters. It's so hard to tout yourself; I think the traits the employer is looking for should be taken for granted. I mean, it's a sad commentary on society that an employer has to specifically state that employees should have a strong work ethic and be friendly to the customers. So I need to find a way to get across to potential employers that I'm the kind of employee that they will be thrilled they hired. How do I know which desirable characteristics are the ones to list, and which good characteristics must go unmentioned? If I'm brutally harsh in my self-evaluation and still recognize that this is a job I'll be superb at, how do I differentiate myself from the people who think they're marvelous at everything and say so in order that they might win the "pick me! pick me!" game.


I bought knee-socks to go with my skirts because I'm tired of spending money on hose and then having them run. Knee-socks are cheaper. One of the pairs of socks in the recently-purchased package was brown. So this morning, getting dressed for church, I pulled on the brown socks to go with my brown Birkenstocks.

One day. One short morning. I haven't worn brown for years. And in one morning I'm already tired of brown.

I think I got too much brown in the 70s. Enough brown to last a lifetime. Gimme blue, red, black, and white, please!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

1830's Trails

Never could keep 'em straight: the Trail of Tears and the Santa Fe Trail. In all honesty, I'm not sure that I ever realized they were separate places.

They both were east-west trails in the US.
They weren't that far apart, and both trails overlapped some of the same longitudinal lines.
The stories of both trails involved Indians and soldiers.
They occurred at the same time.
And obviously, they both contain the word "trail."

We're reading a history book that covers world events during Abraham Lincoln's lifetime. (By the way, I've learned more about Napolean in the last month than I ever learned in school.) Also, Andrew and I are working through some lectures on American wars, and right now we're on the events that led up to the Mexican War. So, in the same week, we stumbled upon both trails.

Now, maybe you learned more history than I learned. Or maybe you can keep straight titles that have the same word in them. But if you too are a Bear of Very Little Brain, here are the differences:

The Santa Fe Trail was a little further north, and began & ended further west than the Trail of Tears.

But more importantly, people went back and forth on the Santa Fe Trail; it was a trade route. The Trail of Tears was a one-time trail, from east to west, from the Cherokee homeland into exile.

I think now I'll be able to keep them straight.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Name ... according to Alia

So as to differentiate between the two grandmothers, it was discussed amongst some people who live here what my grandma-name should be. Lu (Nathan's mom) is Grandma. Some of the family (but especially Andrew) decided I should be Nanna. For days they tried to teach Alia to call me Nanna. She finally complied.

For about a week.

Wednesday she decided I was "Grandma." Funny to see her and her 18-yr-old uncle arguing over whether my name is Nanna or Grandma!

For those of you who haven't met me and my eldest, here's a picture. We do look just a little bit similar. So the computer's screen-saver is rolling through pictures; Alia is watching; a picture of Rachel pops up on the screen; and Alia says, "Grandma!"


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lack of Jokes

Some of my friends and family have greatly enjoyed the daily jokes I used to have on my blog. I hear about people missing the daily laugh when I don't get around to gathering jokes. But it's been hard recently to find jokes. Internet copyright laws have become stricter. Sifting through online jokes involves skipping over lots of really filthy (and unfunny) jokes. Then there are the mediocre jokes which aren't worth laughing at. And when I find something funny, these days it is inevitably copyrighted. I spent an hour this morning hunting jokes and found only one I could post, and it was only slightly funny. I found a three hilarious ones, but I'm not willing to risk the fines if somebody finds out I've posted them here. And I'm not willing to post the links because there may be one or two good jokes on a full page of other stuff (including icky ads). Gary suggested finding old joke books, old enough to have gone out of copyright. But those are probably old jokes that y'all have heard before. Besides it would take a lot more work. I understand that people want to be paid for what they do. But still, ... "pay me to pass on my joke and brighten somebody else's day"?

Today's Laugh

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question? What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query; but, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

Arthur returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men, and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer. But the price would be high; the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first. The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend. Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, and made obscene noises. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.

Arthur refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table. Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus: 'What a woman really wants,' she answered, 'is to be in charge of her own life.'

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom, and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. What a sight awaited him! There was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen before him. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened, and the beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.

Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day ... or night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do?

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow her to make the choice herself.

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

The moral of the story is:
"If you don't let a woman have her own way ... things are going to get ugly."