Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wisconsin Homeschoolers and Your PI-1206

For 27 years, homeschoolers have been notifying the Dept of Public Instruction of the same information regarding their homeschools. It's the census information requested of all schools, public and private.

This year, some homeschoolers are spreading faulty information about the online PI-1206. If you homeschool in Wisconsin, please comply with the excellent law we have. If you need more information, see this article and this one too.

If you refuse to file appropriately, you risk truancy charges. But not only that, you risk my freedoms and others' freedoms. Wisconsin homeschoolers do not want court cases about homeschooling, and we do not want the legislature considering changes to our law. Help protect what we have so long worked for: report your enrollment, and please spread the word to your homeschooling friends and support groups.


I buy health insurance through Gary's job. The company who sells it to us does not have any influence over my health or my need for their product.

I buy auto insurance. Robb, who sells it to me, does not send deer into my path while driving. He does not send thugs through town, bashing cars with baseball bats so that we are feeling the need to protect our cars.

I buy life insurance. The guy who sells it to me has not done anything to cause death rates to rise in my area. Sure, insurance salesmen do operate a bit off the fear-factor, wanting you to prepare for preventing problems if you should die prematurely. But we all know that some people die prematurely. The insurance salesmen don't bump off people so that the rest of us feel a need to insure ourselves.

Let's say a vaccine company comes along and develops a vaccine that might prevent some cases of one particular cancer if it's caused by a particular virus. When that company encourages the government to make the vaccine mandatory, we get suspicious. Is this vaccine really intended for our health? Or is it intended for the health of the pharmaceutical company's bottom line?

Let's say the auto insurance industry gets involved in the government's decision to require new kinds of coverage and higher amounts of coverage. That sure sounds to us as if the insurance dudes are working for their own benefit. We are skeptical.

Let's say a group of lawyers sells legal insurance. Let's say they get involved in the passing of new legislation or in court cases. When we look at this group's history, we find that their involvement in a state will often result in changes that leave law-abiding people fearful. "We knew where things stood last year, but everything's shook up now. Will someone in government come after me? How did the laws change? Did I do everything that I'm supposed to do under the new law? What if my family ends up in court as the whole constitutionality of these new regulations shakes out?" And suddenly, people are feeling the need for protection. They didn't need protection under the old law. But now, after they have been helped by Christian lawyers who are ostensibly "on their side," they need protection.

WHY do we buy protection from those who can create the need to be protected?

Follow the money trail.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Texas's Location

Yes, yes, we know it's hot in Texas, but this ends up a bit silly.

As today is the anniversary of California's statehood, this morning's all-school meeting (which consists of a few minutes after chapel) included factoids about California.

"The hottest temperature ever recorded in the United States was in California. Does anybody know where that was?"

And Joey responds: "Texas!"

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

While transforming a bushel of tomatoes into spaghetti sauce yesterday afternoon, I listened to a Lutheran call-in talk show. The topic was the upcoming Sunday's Gospel from Matthew 18. Somehow, it's always easy for that reading to come off sounding as if Forgiving The Neighbor is the one good work we must do lest we fail to measure up to God's requirements.

On the talk show, one of the pastors cautioned another to not soft-pedal Jesus' words here. (He hadn't been!) While one pastor is saying that we cannot forgive as we ought, but that we rest in the forgiveness of sins obtained in Jesus' sacrifice, the other pastor is saying that we cannot minimize the seriousness of this injunction to forgive our neighbor. Even though we'd talked about that tension during Bible class earlier in the day, it took me until the last 45 seconds of the talk show to figure out what the problem was.

Yes, the Law does demand that we forgive. No, we cannot do it perfectly. Yes, there is forgiveness. No, forgiveness doesn't mean we can blow off what Jesus says about the mercy we sinners cannot give as we ought. So what bothered me? It was where we find the answer to the dilemma.

"I still have my sinful flesh which is unmerciful. This parable shows me my unforgiving heart."
Answer A: Jesus said, "If you do not forgive, your Father will not forgive you."
Answer B: I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Oh, and by the way, when your eyes are fixed more and more on Jesus and His mercy, that cannot help but transform you.

Answer A = Law and demands.
Answer B = Gospel and grace.

Answer A is true. It is good. There is no way to get around it. But it has no power to change my heart into a forgiving heart.

Answer B is true. It is good. And it does have the power to melt an unforgiving heart.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Emergency Baptism

There's disagreement out there on the topic of whether healthy babies should be baptized right after birth or if it's better to wait until the child can come to one of the services of the Church. There is, however, no disagreement about baptizing a baby who is in imminent danger.

My mom was a nursery nurse. Sometimes she would baptize babies. However, not everybody knows that it's not only okay, but good, for a layman to baptize a baby in an emergency. Sometimes we think such things "go without saying." But they don't; they need to be said -- in this situation, it is not disrespectful to the pastoral office to baptize the child yourself. So I just want to mention this right now, for my young readers who may be having children in the coming years, as well as for those of y'all who are in the medical field and may have the opportunity to be around at your patient's end.

Friday morning is a funeral for two little boys for whom Jesus died. We grieve with their parents.

Inconsistent Message

Gary and I walked into a gift shop we've enjoyed in the past. The first thing I saw inside the door, prominently displayed, was a pink nightshirt. The silk-screened picture depicted a pair of sexy high heels, several open bottles of wine, bubbles, and a little confetti, with the saying, "Zero to naked in 15 bottles."


The very next thing I noticed was the music playing: "Come home. Come home. Ye who are weary, come home. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling, 'O sinner, come home.'"

This does not compute.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

C. S. Lewis, in a letter
to Peter Bide, 1959

Wow, that sure puts the finger on how we, on the one hand, truly trust God and yet, on the other hand, chafe at living under the cross.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Census and the Consumer Price Index

The Census Bureau contacted us recently. We have been chosen [oh, lucky us!] to participate in a two-week project. People keep diaries on every penny they spend, and that's part of how the Consumer Price Index is calculated.

So when a person is already irritated with a massive government that intrudes into private life, interferes with business, and spends far too much money, that person is not a happy camper when the government wants to know every time we fill the gas tank, every stick of gum we might buy, and how much we spend on potatoes and socks. Luckily I paid all but one of the month's bills the day the census worker arrived, so none of that had to go in the diary which started the following day.

Looking at the diary, I was floored by its arrangement. Each day you're given 22-25 lines to record expenses. One page is for eating out, another for clothing & jewelry, another for groceries, another for any other expense. Do you catch that? The same space for eating out as for groceries. Now, I understand that if there are 4-5 people in a family, and everybody gets breakfast out, grabs lunch at the school cafeteria or restaurant, stops for a donut or a beer, and then eats out for supper, that means you won't even have enough lines to record the restaurant expenses. But compare that to groceries.

The trick to the groceries is not that "I spent $142.79 at Woodman's on Tuesday," but every item must be recorded. If you bought 5 cans of pineapple, those can all be recorded on one line. But every different item must be listed individually. I asked the poor census worker TWICE, "You must be joking, right? Everything sorted and listed from my grocery receipt?" When she assured me that they do indeed need my grocery purchases listed individually with their pricetags, I told her that that's incentive enough not to go to the grocery store until my two-week duty is done. (Gary said later, "You know, most people couldn't avoid that. We've got a freezer full of meat, canned goods in the basement, and a few bags of flour.") Besides, they allow us only 25 lines per day, with a space at the end of the diary for another 95 items. I'm not sure that would be enough for a grocery receipt that's nearly 3' long.

And a full page for clothing items every single day? In any given two-week period, we're far more likely to spend nothing on clothing & shoes than to buy even one thing.

They tell us that we have been randomly chosen, and that it is imperative that we participate because [get this!] we are representing thousands of our neighbors.


In the way we use our money?

Uh ... I don't think so!

I bet they will get one of the emptiest diaries they've ever seen. And it won't be because I'm not telling the truth about my expenditures. We just don't spend much.

They probably won't believe it. But maybe they could take a lesson: spend less than your income. It might do amazing things for the federal budget.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Too Hot? Too Cold?

A couple of weeks ago, Maggie couldn't exercise. It was too hot, you see. It was, oh, maybe 80° out.

So today we talk about whether she should get up for chapel tomorrow. I could drop her off at church, and she could walk home. "What??! It's cold outside." Yes, the weather has cooled off considerably. I've actually started wondering how long until frost. I'm wondering how the refrigerator temperatures overnight are going to affect my tomatoes which are still ripening on the vine.

But c'mon ... It's too cold to exercise? Does this kid have a 3° window when the temperature is acceptable, or what? I maintain that God gave us sweatshirts for a reason.

Changing a Reputation

We have our expectations. When a cheerful person is quiet and moody, we accept the mood as an anomaly and expect the pleasant disposition next time we see Miss Sunshine. When a cranky person works on being kinder, we're always on guard around him; it takes only one episode of snippiness before we assume that Mr Grumpy has resurfaced.

So how does a person change his reputation? How long does it take? It's hard to realize that other people still expect you to respond in ways you used to respond, even if you seldom or never do those things any more. Those old attitudes and behaviors and responses are still part of your reputation.

So (short of being absolutely perfect, constantly, for a few years) is there anything we can do when we realize that some people have ugly impressions of us? And is there anything we can do to beat back our negative impressions of someone else in order to better believe the new&improved reputation?

Sunday, September 04, 2011


I love the opening quote from an article about the role of an unschooling parent:
Unschooling is not about letting my children run wild. It's not about shirking my responsibility, but it's about embracing it. It's about spending actual time with my children, about getting to know them like I would a friend. Unschooling is about being present with my children.

Unschooling is, in one sense, easier than trying to play The School Game in your own house. But in another sense, unschooling is harder. This article explains why.