Saturday, June 26, 2010


Thought the allergens were getting to me. Or the humidity. But probably it's a cold. Not used to being sick.

I noticed yesterday that I was telling myself "okay" throughout the day. All day. Many times. When I had to go to the grocery store, it was "okay" after I put my shoes on, "okay" after I picked up my purse, "okay" after I climbed into the van and closed the door. This was stupid! But I kept doing it. I would tell myself "okay" after I found each item on the grocery list. "Okay" after I found a check-out lane.

After I took a nap, I gave myself an "okay" after I sat up. And an "okay" after I stood up. It was almost like I needed to coach myself through the day. "You did that. C'mon, Susan, you can tackle the next thing!" Okay!

I've barely told myself "okay" today. That must mean 14 hours of sleep did something to improve my health. :-)

But you know what? If I start hearing me give myself "okay" again today, I think it will be time to lie down and sleep some more.

Today's Laugh

Sick-day negotiations between union members and their employer were at an impasse. The union denied that their workers were flagrantly abusing the sick-leave provisions set out by their contract.

One morning at the bargaining table, the company's chief negotiator held aloft the morning edition of the newspaper. "This man," he announced, "called in sick yesterday!"

There, on the sports page, was a photo of the supposedly ill employee. The news article reported that he had just won a local golf tournament with an excellent score.

A union negotiator broke the silence in the room.

"Wow!" he said. "Just think what kind of score he could have had if he hadn't been sick!"

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the World

We're all very familiar with the Palm Sunday epistle. Jesus emptied Himself. He took on human flesh to save us. He suffered the death of the cross. Therefore the Father has exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.


Wait a second here.

Now, this is how I tend to look at time. Jesus left His heavenly throne. Then we have Christmas, which is, y'know, when we hear that this little boy was named Jesus. Then we have the little boy grow up, being called Jesus all the while. Then He is put on trial, beaten, mocked, crucified, dies, is buried. Then He's raised and ascends. He had the name "Jesus" from the time He was 8 days old.

So what is this "therefore"?

God gave Him the name Jesus because He emptied Himself and was incarnate and died to redeem us.

This doesn't make any sense whatsoever if we're constrained by time. Either Jesus got His name after He died, or else He got it when He was still in diapers (and Paul is in error here as He writes to the Philippians).

The Lord's gracious redemption of His sinful people is not constrained by time. It's too big. Too great. Too ... eternal. Too ... uh ... foundational to the structure of the entire world.

Mary and Joseph were told to name Him "Jesus" because of what He did [not "would do"] on the cross. That's just kind of mind-boggling.

Today's Laugh

Oh, this is so mean. I shouldn't have laughed. But I did!

You're sitting in your riverfront office one day, when you see a lawyer and an IRS agent drowning. You can only save one of them. Do you (a) read the paper, or (b) go to lunch?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Singular or Plural?

Have you ever noticed how many times in the Bible a plural pronoun is attached to a singular noun?

It says "our mind." Not "our minds."
It says "their heart." Not "their hearts."
It says "our life." Not "our lives."

Some "translations" are not really translations, and they [cough] "fix" these so-called grammar mistakes in the original language. That's naughty. There's a reason our Bibles ought to keep these mixed-number passages that would drive an English teacher batty.

We are a reflection of the Trinity who is a community of loving persons in the one Godhead. We in the Church are joined together to be one body of Christ. We are of one mind. We have one life.

It rejoices the heart to come across these little tidbits in the psalms and the epistles. Just the inconspicuous little lack-of-an-S on a noun ... and it quietly points to how we are all joined to Christ in one mystical union.

Today's Laugh

A man is waiting for wife to give birth. The doctor comes in and informs the dad that his son was born without torso, arms or legs. The son is just a head! But the dad loves his son and raises him as well as he can, with love and compassion. After 21 years, the son is old enough for his first drink. Dad takes him to the bar and tearfully tells the son he is proud of him.

Dad orders up the biggest, strongest drink for his boy. With all the bar patrons looking on curiously and the bartender shaking his head in disbelief, the boy takes his first sip of alcohol. Swoooop! A torso pops out!

The bar is dead silent; then bursts into a whoop of joy. The father, shocked, begs his son to drink again. The patrons chant, "Take another drink"! The bartender still shakes his head in dismay.

Swoooop! Two arms pops out. The bar goes wild. The father, crying and wailing, begs his son to drink again. The patrons chant, "Take another drink"! The bartender ignores the whole affair. By now the boy is getting tipsy, and with his new hands he reaches down, grabs his drink and guzzles the last of it. Swoooop! Two legs pop out.

The bar is in chaos. The father falls to his knees and tearfully thanks God. The boy stands up on his new legs and stumbles to the left ... then to the right ... right through the front door, into the street, where a truck runs over him and kills him instantly.

The bar falls silent. The father moans in grief. The bartender sighs and says, "That boy should have quit while he was a head."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The Gadarene demoniac in Sunday's gospel (Luke 8) lived among the graves and ran around naked. He had no shame over it, either.

When Adam sinned and realized he was naked, he hid himself.

On the whole, shame is a bad thing. It is evidence that we have sinned. We pray that God would guard and keep us so that we may not be misled into false belief, despair, and other great shame or vice. And yet, shame over sin is at least a little evidence that the person is aware of God's word and is at least a little grieved over having sinned. When there is no shame over sin, when sin runs amok and is celebrated and reveled in, then it's very likely that faith has been entirely squelched.

Every Cloud

... has a silver lining.

Devotions at Dinner?

Question: Has your family ever figured out a time to have family prayer that's not at meal-time?

I realized recently that we are not having prayers as often as we did. Neither are we eating together as a family so much. If I'm busy and supper is "wing it, guys!" then we don't have devotions. If the kitchen table is littered with schoolwork or a sewing project, even if I cook a Real Meal, we eat in the living room and do not follow-up with prayers.

When we used to have morning devotions and evening devotions, morning prayers were after breakfast and at the start of our homeschooling day, and evening prayers were after supper but before the first kid's bedtime. Once upon a longer time ago, when there were only two kids in the house and thus some cohesiveness to Bedtime, Bible stories and hymns were at bedtime.

Regular family meal-times don't guarantee that we will get out our Bibles and hymnals and pray together. But lack of family meal-time almost certainly guarantees that we won't pray together.

I wonder if recognizing this trend will make it easier for me to focus on getting a Real Meal ready each day, and put on the table instead of plunking ourselves on the couch or the floor or wherever.

So when does your family have prayers together? Are we the only ones who need to eat together before we pray together?

Today's Laugh

A student called up his mom one evening from his college and asked her for some money because he was broke.

His mother said, "Sure, sweetie. I will send you some money. You also left your economics book here when you visited two weeks ago. Do you want me to send that up too?"

"Uhh, oh, yeah, okay," responded the kid.

So his mom wrapped the book along with the checks up in a package, kissed Dad goodbye, and went to the post office to mail the money and the book. When she gets back, Dad asked, "Well, how much did you give the boy this time?"

"Oh, I wrote two checks: one for $20, and the other for $1000."

"That's $1020!!!" yelled Dad. "Are you going crazy???"

"Don't worry, hon," Mom said, kissing Dad on the on top of his bald head. "I taped the $20 check to the cover of his book, but I put the $1000 one somewhere between the pages in chapter 15!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


On Paul's orientation day at college, we happened to be chatting in the cafeteria with one of the women on staff. Turned out Patti was the school counselor, and she was missing a family wedding in LaCrosse because Freshman Orientation is something she just could not miss. I was driving right past LaCrosse on my way home, so Patti asked if she could have a ride. It was such a pleasant ride to chat with her and get to know her. And because my car was going in that direction (and she was not shy to ask for a ride) she could attend the reception with her family.

Last week at symposium, Patti's son-in-law and I were talking. I mentioned this story and how much it had impressed me and how friendly she was. David said that, yes, his wife was just like her mom: they both will ask things that other people might be afraid to ask, but it's so refreshing that they don't pussy-foot around.

The next day, a few of us from church were munching on our brown-bag lunches while all the other symposium attendees went out to restaurants. We were talking and eating and laughing when Craig walked into the room and approached our table. He asked, "Mind if I join you?" knowing that of course we wouldn't mind. I don't know his family as well as I'd like to (they're really nice!), so it was super to have him with us.

The next day, somebody needed a ride back to the hotel after the barbecue at the park. As we drove him there, he asked where we live. "Just a couple of miles from church." John asked, "Then what are you doing coming all the way over here to drive me back to the hotel? I thought this would be on your way." No, it wasn't on our way. But there was nobody left at the park going in that direction, so we took him. It was no big deal; it was a pleasant chance to visit with him a bit more.

So, here's the thing:
Why am I so afraid of "imposing"? I don't see any of these situations as impositions. Not at all. I'm happy to have other people join the gang! But when I'm the one wanting to approach a group of people eating lunch, or when I'm the one asking for a favor, I feel like a big fat wart or leech. This is dumb. If I was delighted to be with Patti and Craig and John in these stories from last week, then mightn't other people have the same sort of delights?


I haven't exercised at all since last August. But my leg problem is clearing up, and I have inserts in my shoes to deal with the foot pain. Once I got to the point that I could walk around the house without wincing, I figured I should get walking outside, with a little speed and effort invested. So I started "jogging" again on May 27. I've been a good girl. I've only skipped days when I was occupied at church all morning or traveling to/from vacation.

I hate jogging. I have been spending the whole time giving myself speeches: "One more step. Remember to breathe. Keep going. Don't stop. Breathe, you idiot! One more step. And another step. You can do it. No, I can't! YES, you can, you wimp! Breathe!"

As I dragged myself through those 10-minute stints of excruciating exercise (which y'all would laugh at because it was such weak-hearted exercise!) I kept telling myself that I just needed to get through the first month. It would all be much easier after a month.

Well, I noticed last week that exercising isn't quite as detestable as it was 3-4 weeks ago. And today I finally reached the point where I could think about something other than "Just keep going!" So hooray! Now I'm looking forward to eventually reaping some of the benefits of this self-inflicted punishment.

Today's Laugh

It is a fact that baseball players, especially catchers, started using metal cups --and later hard plastic-- in the 19th century. They did not use hard helmets until about WWII. They must have finally realized that your head is also important to protect.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nutrition-Nazi Bakes for the Neighbor

A very large dead branch came down out of the crab-apple tree shortly before vacation. We haven't gotten around to dealing with it yet. I did mention to Andrew once that we (read: he) should trim the twigs and begin sawing the branch into logs. But we (read: he, to escape my nagging) hadn't gotten to it yet.

Our neighbor Doug was outside today, trimming trees. Taking down branches. Chopping them up with a chainsaw. Wow..... Do you know how much faster chainsaws are than handsaws? Let me tell you, it is a LOT faster!

I was trying to get up my nerve to go over there and propose a barter: a couple of loaves of hotfresh bread in trade for his taking a few minutes with his chainsaw to turn that branch into a few fireplace-sized pieces. But before I did, he came over and offered! (Isn't that must mega-sweet?!?)

After picking up the logs, I told Doug of my ponderings 20 minutes earlier. He said I didn't have to do that, it was no problem, and all those nice neighborly things. I asked him whether I should make white or whole-wheat if I were to make them some bread anyhow. He said white.

So it's rising.

It looks funny. It's all .... well .... WHITE.

I feel like I'm giving him something that will hurt him. He does something so nice and I turn around and give him WHITE bread. I feel like a bad person.

(Wow, this really makes me realize what nutso I am.)

Thinking about a Job

I keep checking the want ads, just in case something perfect shows up. And wow! Did I see a nifty-looking job this weekend! Now I need to decide whether to apply.

The job is to run the program that provides history fieldtrips to schoolkids. It would involve teaching in a "1917 schoolhouse" and also taking the kids to a 1860s museum a short walk away from the schoolhouse. Can you say "mega-fun"???

The upsides are that it sounds tremendously interesting to teach grade-school kids about living history. And that it's got lots of variety in the job (including planning the program, billing, communicating with the teachers who will be bringing their classes, and the actual teaching days).

It's a half-hour from home. Not exactly as close as I'd hoped to be for a job. But not too bad.

The downside is the amount of responsibility and time required. It's half-time, which is more than I'd want to put in for Andrew's last year (aka, catch-up and finish-it-off year) of homeschooling. And it involves marketing the program, talking it up in the community, finding schools to participate, enlisting volunteers, writing for grants to keep the program up and running, and otherwise promoting it. I'm not much for selling things, but as Gary said, maybe this is not pushing the program so much as letting people know it's there and the benefits of participating.

Yesterday afternoon, I was all gun-ho to fill out an application and go apply in person right away. But after I discovered the job description online (that is, the marketing aspects of the job) now I have a lot more to consider. It sure sounds like this would be the ideal job for me in so many ways! But am I ready to take on this much responsibility already, or do I need to wait another year when I'm down to homeschooling only one?

Today's Laugh

A very wealthy lawyer retreated for several weeks each year to his summer home in the backwoods of Maine. Every summer, he would invite one friend or another to stay with him there for a week or two. One summer he invited a Czechoslovakian friend to visit him. The friend, happy to get anything free from a lawyer, eagerly agreed. When the time came, they spent a wonderful time, getting up early every morning and enjoying the great outdoors.

One morning, as the lawyer and his Czechoslovakian friend were picking raspberries and blueberries for their breakfast, they were approached by two huge bears--a male and a female. The lawyer noticed them in time to run for cover. His friend, however, was not so lucky. The male bear reached him and swallowed him whole. Seeing this, the lawyer ran back to his Mercedes and raced for the nearest town to get the local sheriff. The sheriff grabbed his high-powered rifle and raced back to the berry area with the lawyer. All the while, lawyer was plagued by visions of a lawsuit from his friend's family. He just had to save his friend.

Luckily, the bears were still there. "He's in THAT one!" cried the lawyer, pointing to the male. The sheriff looked at the bears, leveled his gun, took careful aim, and shot the female. "What did you do that for?!" exclaimed the lawyer, "I said he was in the other bear!"

"Exactly," replied the sheriff. "Would you believe a lawyer who told you that the Czech was in the male?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wood Smoke

Ah, the smell of neighbors' fire places!

One neighbor has a smoke-house. We seldom smell it. Smoking is usually done during the chilly months. When the luscious odors come wafting our way, the closed window panes protect us from the temptation to eat ham in copious quantities.

For years we'd had a gas grill. When it died, we replaced it with a charcoal grill. (Cheaper, doncha know?) A friend introduced Gary to natural hardwood charcoal. Christopher also introduced Gary to a chimney lighter; this saves money on lighter fluid and eliminates the chemical taste of the starter. On now, on top of this, Gary has discovered yet more good flavor: the hickory wood chunks you can soak and then toss in with the charcoal. Boy oh boy! Every time we grill, it smells wonderful around here! Even when you haul out leftover hamburgers or pork chops, the enticing aroma spreads through the kitchen.

Issue #49 of Backwoods Home had an article on how to make your own charcoal. We did that once -- by accident. A smoking log was buried under enough ash, and we thought it was out. But the next time we went out to the fire pit, we discovered some of the log had become charcoal. That was neat! But given our current location and lack of hardwood, I'm not goin' for self-reliance; we'll buy real charcoal instead of making our own. Next we're going to have to try the inexpensive brand that my aunt told me was available at Walmart.

Today's Laugh

Martin had just received his brand new drivers license. The family troops out to the driveway and climbs in the car, where he is going to take them for a ride for the first time. Dad immediately heads for the back seat, directly behind the newly minted driver.

"I'll bet you're back there to get a change of scenery after all those months of sitting in the front passenger seat teaching me how to drive," says the beaming boy to his father.

"Nope," comes dad's reply. "I'm gonna sit here and kick the back of your seat as you drive, just like you've been doing to me all these years."