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.