Saturday, November 19, 2011

Faith-Motivated Works

All works --everything we do-- is motivated by faith. It's not just that good works emanate from the faith of a heart that trusts in Jesus. Even our sinful works flow from the self-centered faith (or unfaith, as it were) of the Old Adam. Everything we do --good or bad-- exposes what we believe.

Birthday Pictures

How did I manage to come up with only one decent picture of the birthday girl?
Zoe and her godmother Cassie:
Nathan and his mom Lu:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Comparing Pianos

We bought our used piano 23 years ago, and at that point it was about 30 years old. Our tuner told us that it can't be tuned anymore. He can't quite get it tuned all the way, and the pins are loose. We either live with the piano we've got, or we buy something else.

Having no clue whatsoever as to the cost of pianos, Maggie and I hit a couple of music stores today. I was shocked that the first one sells only digital pianos; they haven't sold real pianos for 15 years. After a sales pitch on why digital is far-&-away superior, the salesman did direct me to a store which still sells acoustic pianos.

Here's what I gathered from the salesmen:

Digital has certain benefits:
~ No tuning is necessary. That saves an annual fee.
~ It stays in perfect pitch.
~ Settings for "strings" or "trumpet," etc.
~ Adjustable volume, including headsets for private listening.
~ Lighter weight and thus easier to move.

Acoustic has certain benefits:
~ You don't lose the piano in an electrical outage.
~ You don't have to pay WE Energies to operate it.
~ Easier on Gary's tinnitus. Any electrically-powered instrument bothers his ears.

A good, refurbished, used piano from the piano store is in the same price range as a nice beginner-level digital (in other words, lower quality but not el cheapo). For new instruments, a real piano goes for at least twice what the digital sells for. I was amazed at the wonderful sound and feel of the digital instruments; it was more like a real piano than I imagined it could be.

Any comments on pros and cons I haven't considered? Do we know what the life span is on a digital, and what the repair costs would be when/if the computer inside goes wonky? Should a person with carpal tunnel problems be admitting that it's time to give up on the piano, and let go [gasp!], and just buy the cheapest keyboard available? What have y'all decided about electrical versus "real"?

Where Did THAT Come From?

In the gravelly dirt, just outside the garage door, next to the driveway:
It's the middle of November. We didn't try to plant this. It's not even in tilled soil. I just happened to notice these pretty little leaves yesterday while carrying in groceries. Surely they couldn't be ....? Could they? I tasted one. Sure enough, it's delectable baby spinach. All I can figure is that we unwittingly knocked some spinach seed off a dried plant when cleaning up the garden.

Bible class on Monday night was about creation. Pastor was making the point that God's creative word spoken so many millenia ago still has the power to create. Yeah, I know, I know. At least, I thought I knew. Why then is it so striking to see spinach growing --seemingly of its own accord-- in such a stupid spot for anything other than weeds to grow?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

For My Daughters

People who loved the picture book A Very Young Dancer may be interested to read the news article about the girl featured in the book.

Hat tip: Barbara

Joshua's Farewell Message

Joshua is nearing the end of his life. He reminds the children of Israel of all that the Lord had done to rescue them from slavery in Egypt, to sustain them on their journey, and to defeat their enemies and give them the Promised Land. Joshua told them to choose whom they would serve. The people responded that the Lord was the true God, reciting what He had done for them, and professed, "We will serve the Lord, for He is our God."

Good plan.

But look how Joshua responded. "You can't." (See Joshua 24:19.)

Ack! You almost want to throw something at Joshua. He says, "Choose." They choose. Then he says, "You can't do it."

But isn't this what the Third Article tells us? "I believe that I cannot ..." And yet, the Holy Spirit calls us and gives us the Sacraments and sanctifies us.

Even though we cannot, He can, for with God, all things are possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ball Game

So I didn't get around to posting these two months ago when they were new. No surprise there! One of the outings we took for our wedding anniversary was to the Cardinals game. Of course, everybody else in the stadium thought it was a Brewers game. I was worried that the dude sitting next to me would get beaten up by rabid fans. But the only "attacks" were people shushing Gary's cheering.

Because the traffic is so bad, and because we had so much fun tailgating the previous year with Michael and Krissy, we figured it would be a good plan to go early. But we don't have a portable grill. And I'm just not adventuresome enough to figure out a Proper Tailgate Picnic. So I did what any normal nutrition-weirdo would do. I took regular food. Well, regular for us. So here's the picture of me sitting in the parking lot of Miller Park, eating my African peanut soup out of a thermos. Bratwurst? Not that night. Sub sandwiches? Not then. Potato chips? No. Beer? One, plus a kombucha.

And what's weirder? My husband liked his African peanut soup in the parking lot, even when he was surrounded by smoke wafting off of grills full of brats and burgers.


Don't bother reading this unless you've read Harry Potter and know what a horcrux is.

My son mentioned recently that it's almost like we are horcruxes. We have this sinful nature. Jesus said (in John 8) to the Pharisees, "You are of your father the devil." The devil and sin won't be done until all our sinful natures are dead and buried at the end of the world, when all the "horcruxes" are finally destroyed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bearing Fruit for Jesus

EC has an excellent description. Things that seem obvious in the garden don't seem so obvious when Jesus goes and uses the example to describe faith. But it really shouldn't be as tricky as we make it; we DO understand how fruit works in the garden.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thought Paralysis

You know how you're at a loss of "What next??" after you finish a big project? I've noticed that, since I started my part-time job, I've lost a lot of ability to keep myself going with the homemaking. Some jobs (like being a mom) allow for lots of self-determination with regard to priorities and schedules and methods. But other jobs (like being a bank teller) are quite set, and there's very little to decide for yourself about how the job will be done; you do the work the way the boss tells you to do it.

I'm finding, though, that this affects how I think. Being told what to do and how to do it at the bank makes it much harder to arrange my work at home and have the motivation to dive in and do it. On my days off, I struggle to figure out which pressing task is the most important. Sometimes it's easier to bail and not do anything. (Not a good solution!)

This makes me wonder about kids. Does this have something to do with the motivation of homeschooled kids, particularly unschooled ones? Is this why people who are accustomed to conventional schools --with teachers calling all the shots-- simply cannot comprehend how homeschooled kids could arrange their own study lives and dive in to learn all sorts of things, even when nobody is cracking the whip over their heads?

So I had a couple of days in a row without being scheduled at my job. Saturday afternoon we babysat the grandkids. Sunday morning was church, and Sunday afternoon was talking to Philip. Monday was ... well ... what would Monday be? Cleaning? Cooking? Errands? Baking bread? Laundry? Yard work? Or attacking multitudes of little tasks on the to-do list? How would I ever decide? It all is important and needs to be done soon.

And the paralysis sets in.

Luckily though (??? did I just say "luckily"???) when I arrived home from chapel and some brief errands, the cat had made the decision for me. Rosie went in search of water, jumping up on the kitchen counter (a major no-no), tipping over a pitcher of water, and knocking stuff around while lapping up the water. A big splash of sweet-tea concentrate hit the floor (and under the stove and the vent above the stove and the counters).

Guess what? I spent a much of today cleaning the kitchen.

I think it would be good if I chose for myself how to spend my next day at home instead of depending upon the cat's prompting.