Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Parable of the Talents

Remember the story in Matthew where the lord gives treasure to some of his servants to manage while he's gone? One receives five talents and has doubled it before the master returns. Another receives two and doubles it before the master returns. The third received one talent and hid it, so there wasn't even interest earned when the master came back.

It confused me. On the one hand, the first two were invited to "enter into the joy of your lord." But the third said, "I knew you to be a hard man," and the master seemed to agree with that assessment. What's up with that? Is this lord a guy who is hard and unyielding? Or is he a guy who rewards generously and ensures that joy come to his servants?

When I finally asked Pastor, his answer was quick: "He is a hard man. There is only one way, and He is unyielding with regard to one who insists on saving himself, meriting his own heaven." But that kind of hardness by no means precludes His generosity in bestowing joy.


How can a person not smile in response to such a happy picture?

(Zoe is nearly 8 months old now.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

These Days

Rachel and Matt arrived Wednesday evening. Although Matt had to go home to go to work today, we kept Rachel. We've enjoyed having them around.

We missed Paul and Philip who were not able to be here.

Andrew, Matt, and Nathan helped Gary do the raking. The leaves are done, the deck is picked up, and the hatches are battened down for the winter. Oops -- there are still gutters to clean, but the big jobs are done.

We drove way down to the south side of the metro area today to check out a used car. The odometer was off, and the driver's seat would be a little too cozy for Andrew to drive. Scratch that one off the list. I'm seeing another car on Sunday; this one is about 7 minutes away. I detest car shopping. It's such a big decision, fraught with po$$ible problem$ waiting in the wing$.

Gary's preaching every weekend this month. Extra income -- hooray! Extra tiredness -- sigh. But when the men need a substitute, it's so good that Gary's available for them!

I saw the doctor this morning. Good news: my cough is not contagious. Bad news: he suspects it will last another six weeks before I'm completely over it. Good news (kinda sorta): it's a complication of allergies, which means if I gather all my gumption and do another cleanse, I should be able to rid myself of this nonsense for 3-5 years before it creeps up on me again. My last cleanse was over six years ago, and it helped in so many ways. But it takes loads of thought to remember the supplements, to fast from many kinds of food, to prepare all the right kinds of "non-polluting" foods, to exercise the self-control to avoid sugars and chocolate and liquor and cheese. I just plain feel short of the brainwaves required to pull this off. On the other hand ... two months of coughing every winter, and dealing with snotty-headed allergies? Maybe the cleanse would be easier...

When we have down-time at work, we've been cutting out paper snowflakes to decorate the windows for the next couple of months. Mine are the prettiest, six-pointed and all delicate and lacy and intricate. That sounds arrogant. But they are. I'm amazed at how pretty they are. People have actually gasped in astonishment over how pretty they are. Hee hee hee -- that's fun.

I probably should put some of the turkey into the freezer. But right now, when it's only Friday evening, it's hard to imagine that we could possibly grow tired of this turkey-deliciousness before we gobble it all up. (Ha ha ... pun intended ... you're amused, right?) The turkey stock has been well-boiled and strained and is cooling. Oh, the yumminess! Turkey soup. Turkey sandwiches. Turkey tetrazini. Turkey turkey turkey -- mmmm. It's hard to believe that this is the first turkey we've had since I started my job. Really, dear turkey, my love, my sweetness, we must steal away more often for these rendezvous.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving -- After-Dinner Activities

Zoe loves to have somebody help her stand and walk!

Alia wants to play Pandemic too.

Tired of the board game; let's read stories.

Crawling all over the place!

It's a shame that there aren't walkers any more for babies at this stage. Good thing Katie has strong tummy muscles!

Thanksgiving -- Yard "work"

Thanksgiving -- Dinner

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Way Back When I Was Young

Our math textbook is from the early 80's. Maggie was doing a lesson on graphing. So there's a graph of TV-watching habits of the kids in this hypothetical classroom. A question started with "53% of the students watched the special on Monday night."

And the modern child asks me, "Mom, what's a 'special?'"

I find that question astounding. But just in case I have other young readers who don't know what a 'special' is, they'd need to understand that once-upon-a-time there were THREE television channels and no VCRs or DVDs or TIVO or Netflix or Hulu. Everybody watched what everybody else watched, and at the same time too. And sometimes, instead of the usual Monday night line-up, there might be something different and "special" on. Hence, a math question that starts with "53% of the students watch the special."

It's almost bizarre to consider in today's world of 100's of television channels and on-demand movies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"While Slumber Binds Our Breasts"

Our hymn this week is "The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us." I am, naturally, stumbling over the LSB translation. Normally, I sing the words I can, and hush up in chapel for the lines that have changed, hoping that listening to the kids sing all week will somehow get into my head so that my mouth becomes capable (in time) of shaping the words that live in the new hymnal.

This hymn has an interesting adjustment.

TLH: The Bridegroom soon will call us,
"Come all ye wedding guests!"
May not His voice appall us
while slumber binds our breasts!

LSB: The Bridegroom soon will call us,
"Come to the wedding feast."
May slumber not befall us
nor watchfulness decrease.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the LSB words: there are many places in the Scriptures where we are called to "watch and pray" and not to sleep.

But in the story of the five wise and five foolish virgins (Matthew 25) upon which this hymn is based, all ten virgins fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom. It seems like the TLH version is a more accurate picture of the parable. And I like that, because it's a good reminder that it is the Lord --not my watchfulness-- that preserves me in the faith. But I will get used to the new words eventually.

The Rapture

Back when I read Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth," I didn't know why his predictions were wrong. And honestly, some of it was a little scary. "What if he's right?" I wondered. A lot of it seemed outlandish. "But what if he's right?"

Eventually I learned why those sort of predictions are wrong and why we know that the so-called Rapture will not happen. But what blew me away recently was something from our study of 1 Thessalonians this month. The verse upon which some people base their whole scheme of a "rapture" starts with the word "then": "then we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air."

And what came before the "then"? Uh... that would be the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day.

Seriously! That's what it says. All the thinking and discussing and preaching about the Rapture is so focused on what "logic" invents that people don't even see the preceding sentence.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cranberry Jelly

We've tried a variety of off-brand cranberry jellies and have always been disappointed. We go back to Ocean Spray and vow to stick with the name brand. Last week I bought one can of Aldi cranberry jelly, just to taste-test it. It's good! It passes the test with flying colors.

Just thought some of y'all might like to know.

Gideon's Army

Our story today is about Gideon going against the Midianite army with his 300 soldiers and their "fearsome" weapons of trumpets and torches.

Look at verse 2. The Lord told Gideon that he had too many soldiers. With 32,000 soldiers, if God gave Midian into the hands of the Israelites, Israel would think they (not the Lord) had won the battle: "lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me...."

"Against Me"?

Who are the combatants here anyway? I always thought it was Israel and Midian. But God said, "against Me." And when you think about it, isn't that what the Book of Judges is all about? The Israelites are fighting against God. So He calls them to repentance. The Midianites aren't so much the main enemy here as they are the tool of God to chastise His dear people who have despised Him and considered Him to be the enemy. And yet in love, He still draws His people back to Himself and fights for them and preserves them and gives them the victory.

Philip's Travels

Philip flew out of Chicago Sunday morning. He has two weeks of vacation in Japan. Because Japanese cell-phone towers do not mesh with American cell phones, he set up a website to stay in contact. (As the kids joke, yes, his mother wants to know every few days that he's still alive!) For those interested in seeing pictures and hearing reports, check out philinjapan at tumblr.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Cards

If you're looking for beautiful Christmas cards, Emmanuel Press has full-color artwork and sound messages inside. The quality of the cards is excellent, and they even come in a handy resealable package.