Saturday, September 17, 2011

Garden Mistakes

Liz asked about pruning raspberries.This is what I accomplished a couple of weeks ago. Thing is, I shouldn't have. Because I didn't prune shortly after the canes were done bearing, they were too crowded. Next year's canes didn't grow strong enough. The wind has bent and broken too many of next year's fruiting canes. What I should have done (given my neglect in July and August) was to prune out all of this year's fruiting canes and some of the baby canes. But I should have left plenty and then pruned again in spring. Right now, I have no margin for loss to winter's ice and snow and deer. But for the sake of Liz's education, this IS how thick the bearing-canes should be standing when a person is done with the spring pruning.

The strawberry patch has been a project screaming for attention for about 10 weeks now. Mark & Julie loaned me their Mantis [tiller] and I love it. It's lightweight enough that I can handle it. It took me three hours to spade up the weeds and eliminate that row by hand, till deeply and add manure, and replant strawberry crowns/plants. So, only about 12 more hours to go.

I can't believe how exhausted I was from fixing that one row. I couldn't make supper, clean, or do anything last night except collapse and relax. Not good. I felt so lazy. All I did was three measly hours of manual labor, and then I was shot. The plan was three more hours each day until I was done. But rain interrupted today's efforts. That does wretched things to my momentum!

Look at those miserable cucumber vines. The fungus got 'em. And yet, they bore. Not much, to be sure, but they did bear something. The powdery mildew also plagued the volunteer cantaloupe vines that showed up in the compost pile. And yet, we have 8 nice cantaloupes out there ripening. "God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayer, even to all miserable gardeners, but we pray that He would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving."

On a science note: I think this fungus problem in the garden is helping me figure out things in the Bible where it says the crops were destroyed, and yet there was still something left for the next plague to come along and destroy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Deep Recesses of Memory

For many years we recited one chief part of the catechism each day of the week. It keeps the words once-memorized accessible in one's brain. During the last few years, we would say that day's catechism portion on the drive to chapel. This summer we slacked off. When we began to resurrect the habit recently at the start of the new school year, I was surprised by what came out of my mouth.

The words from the 1943 catechism are popping up in unexpected places. I have been using the 1986 catechism since 1986 (or before?). I've been teaching it; I've been reciting it; I've been praying it; I know it. And then, here we are -- the fourth commandment: "give them honor, serve and obey them, and hold them in love and esteem." The second article: "who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, ..." Good grief! Where did that come from all of a sudden?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nineteen Years Ago

Once upon a time, on this very evening, I was in a fit of vacuuming, mopping, dusting, doing laundry, and washing dishes. Yes, it was late. Yes, the children were already tucked in for the night. It's called "nesting." I remember taking a break to watch Rush; that was the brief stint when he had the television show, and it was less than two months before the Clinton/Bush election.

The next morning, we made it to the hospital in record time; I have no idea what the speedometer might have said. Twenty-two minutes after I waddled into the ER, we welcomed the biggest newborn we'd ever seen.

Annetta and her kids came to visit that morning. A little later Gary fetched our kids. They stopped at the fast food joint across the street from the hospital. The kids rejoiced over burgers and fries while Gary and I dined on steak and champagne. A little later, we took our sweetie-pie home to snuggle and love.
Isn't he just the cutest thing? And he still is!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Pietist Meets Leviticus

What? A person is unclean because he was working in the field and accidentally touched a dead frog? A person is unclean because of certain bodily functions that are unavoidable? Yesterday's story from Leviticus 4-5 mentions guilt due to hearing someone else utter an oath. Today's story from Leviticus 5-6 mentions sinning when you're unaware of it. And the one that (years ago) really made me mad at God -- a person is unclean because of touching her husband's or child's dead body to prepare the deceased for burial.

How on earth is anybody supposed to remain clean???

Um ... yeah ... exactly the point.

I used to think "being clean" was what was most important to God. I thought what mattered to Him was whether I was a good girl. So it seemed very unfair of Him to set up rules that we just could not obey fully. When we studied Leviticus a few years ago, Pastor repeatedly emphasized two things we learn from the sacrificial system: to point to Christ's sacrifice, and to show the people that they could not obey the law and needed atonement from outside themselves.

So what I used to think was unfair is actually a good thing. It was God's way of showing that we can't do the law, no matter how hard we try, no matter how scrupulous we are. It is impossible for us. There is only One who is clean. Our cleanness is imputed to us because of Christ's blamelessness. The law's demands were never intended to be our checklist, but were given to show us our impotence. And that's good news -- even though it's plenty weird to be rejoicing in our impotence. Because Christ is our strength, our ability, our refuge, our perfection.

"The Gospel gives what the Law demands."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Office of the Holy Ministry

What's the difference between a pastor and a DCE? Between a pastor and a principal? Between a pastor and a deaconess?

Recent "Pressure Point" articles in the Reporter have addressed the topic of what happens to a congregation in the transition between pastors. At the end of this month's article, a question is raised: "Why is it that our church body addresses congregational issues when pastors leave and not for called workers -- teachers, DCEs, etc?"

Of course, the response was "Good point" along with a statement that the previous articles should apply to all church workers and not just pastors.

But my thought was different. Yes -- good point! It's true, the effect on a congregation of a pastor's leaving is vastly different from when another church worker leaves. That right there ought to be evidence of the difference in office.

Do we not see that the pastor is in the stead of Christ? The DCE is not. The principal is not. The deaconess is not. That doesn't mean these workers are unimportant. But they do different work. These other offices are good, and the people in them serve the neighbor in God-pleasing ways. But these other offices are not essential to the Church. The pastoral ministry IS. That's why the pastor's departure (whether he has been faithful or a scoundrel) is such a big deal for the congregation.

My Strawberry Bed

Actually, when the crabgrass flowers, it's rather pretty.

Pssst -- This is not a good thing to have discovered.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reservation Glitches

When Gary and I went to check in to our bed & breakfast for our anniversary celebration, we were stunned to find that we didn't have reservations. Did I make reservations at a different bed & breakfast? We called the only other one in Spring Green, and no, they didn't have us down either. We were immensely thankful for the innkeeper who helped us!

This past Saturday, when we returned for Installment #2 of our anniversary celebration in Spring Green, I was dismayed to find that the tickets were dated for Friday. I had ordered Saturday tickets, but it was clear as day that the tickets in my grubby little hands were for the previous day. I thought surely I was losing it! How could I botch up so many things?

But we managed to work out that situation too. And oddly enough, it turned out that another couple we talked to on Saturday also received tickets different from what they'd ordered. And then, today, I received a phone call from the interim innkeeper we'd stayed with last month. (She's like a vacancy pastor or a substitute teacher, filling in when the B&B owner is away.) They are sending us a check for the price difference between the room I'd reserved and the nicer room we ended up taking when we arrived to find that they had no record of our arrival, and someone else in the room we'd requested. It turns out that the very same thing happened the next day to another guest at the B&B.

So now I'm wondering what was going on in the bits and bytes of the Internet over summer. Usually everything flows smoothly. But this many reservations gone wonky? Did anyone else bump into these kinds of glitches in mid- to late-summer?

Isaiah 1:18

Come, let us reason together:
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
they shall be as wool.

"Like wool."
Wool comes from a lamb.

Isaiah 61 says, "He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." And "He" is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Be Transformed

Y'know how some Christians are prone to telling us we need to change the way we think, how we need to be more spiritual or whatever?

Someone recently pointed out how Romans 8 tells us that He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. And Romans 12 tells us that we should not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

Be transformed.
Be conformed.

Those are passive verbs.
It's what's done to us.

We don't conform ourselves to the image of Jesus. That's the Holy Spirit's job. We don't transform our own minds, but we are the ones who are being transformed.