Monday, December 31, 2012


Gary with his TARDIS mug.

Mandy showing off the disappearing/reappearing TARDIS.

Dr Who?  Why, Doctor Matt, of course.  Accompanied by the Supreme Empress Dictator of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Pictures

Rachel and Alia (early in the day)

Zoe borrows an FS hat

The fire is captivating!

Pirate Paul has a Polly Parrot on his shoulder.  Squawk!

Evidence that little girls were here!  Horses on parade, headed to dinner.

End of the day meltdown.  "But I don't WANT to go home!  I want to stay at Nanna's and Papa's!!!"

Humble Cattle

The English translation of "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come" used to read:
... that Thou dost choose Thine infant bed
where humble cattle lately fed.

I noticed this year that the new translation goes:
... that You should choose to lay Your head
where lowly cattle lately fed.

Lowly.  Humble.  It's the same thing.

But somehow we've turned "humble" into something to brag about, something to admire, something to work toward, something for which we [oxymoronically] pat ourselves on the back.

In the modern definition of "humble" it must sound mighty queer to anthropomorphize the cattle by suggesting that they possess the quality of humility.  But that's NOT what humility is!

Someday I'm going to have to 
tell the story of the Humble Girl.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Family Pictures

Gary and Zoe

Katie and Maggie

Mandy and Paul

the kids

front row:Philip, Maggie, Katie, Mandy, Paul
back row:Andrew, Nathan, Rachel, Matt

the whole family

Alia, Katie, Zoe, Nathan

Susan and Gary

Rachel and Matt

New Year's Treats

So what does it mean when you go to the grocery store to buy goodies to celebrate the new year, and come home with --
brussels sprouts to roast
fresh salsa
spinach turnovers
cauliflower to steam & butter
mushrooms, cucumbers, and tomatoes?

I think we must be old farts.
Old farts who OD-ed on treats last weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Few Christmas Pictures

Fish fingers and custard.
Really, Katie?
It's something that Doctor 11 enjoyed.
And no, they're not really fish sticks.  They're cookies designed to look like fish sticks.  Even though my tastebuds told me this was quite the yummy snack, my brain just couldn't cope with the looks of it.

[shudder]  Fish fingers and custard.  [shudder]

By the way, notice 11's sonic screwdriver also on the tray.  And it just so happens that on the back of the table is the box for Gary's "Disappearing Tardis Mug" from Paul and Mandy.  Combine that with timeshares for Gary and Maggie, in ownership of a brand-spankin'-new Dr Who lunchbox, and sonic screwdrivers for Matt and Rachel, and we shall call this a very merry Dr-Who Christmas.

French-Fried Frog Legs!!!!

"I'm goin' on a picnic and I'm taking ....
FRENCH-FRIED FROG LEGS, eggs, dandelion greens, carrots, bananas, and apples."

[Whew.  Good thing nobody had heard of fish fingers and custard back then.]

Andrew wanted a hair cut.  When I cut it to 3/4" that wasn't enough for him.  So I buzzed him shorter.  Wow -- it's hard to recognize him now.

 So it takes three adults to dress one child in snowsuit, mittens, and other outdoor paraphenalia. And Katie can accomplish this feat quicker than the three of us put together.

Matt and Katie taking the girls sledding down the "hill" in the backyard. Isn't the light gorgeous off the snow when twilight is approaching?

Okay, so there are other pictures.  Tomorrow or the next day I'll try to post pictures from the weekend.  But first there are chores to catch up with.  It's been a very nice few days.  Plenty of chance to soak up God's Word at church, and plenty of time to hang out with my dear kiddoes.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


So when the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and then goes away sad (Mt 19, Mk 10, Lk 18) and the disciples ask, "Well, who then can be saved?" Jesus answers, "With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Interesting how that's so much like what Gabriel told Mary.  "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"  "With God nothing will be impossible."

Forget "easy" things like Elizabeth's getting pregnant.

With God,
not even the salvation of arrogant sinners
is impossible.

"You shall call His name JESUS 
for He shall save His people from their sins."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Words That Are Often Confused

During the recent election I kept hearing a radio ad for a certain politician.  The ads contrasted the status quo of one candidate with the new ideals and energy of the opponent.  The candidate talked about the "10th-century ideals" of the other party. Would the electorate accept or reject liberal ideals in the aftermath of the recession?

Do they mean ideals?  Were they saying what they meant?  Or were they confusing "ideal" with "idea"?  After all, there are similarities between the words.  An ideal is, after all, one kind of idea.  But somehow I think somebody thought "idea" is sometimes spelled with a silent-L.  (Pssst.  It's not.)

When people are in a coma, they do not lose "conscienceness."  Your conscience is your moral compass.  It pricks when you've done wrong.  "Conscious" means you're aware; it's what you are once you've come out of that coma.  Besides, one is a noun and the other is an adjective.

There also seems to be confusion out there in the big wide world about losing things.  I understand why: when something is loose (like the screw that holds your eyeglasses together) you may lose the item.  When you're talking about clothing or the twist-tie on the bread or how your car tire is attached to the axle, loose is the opposite of tight.  When you're talking about freedom versus captivity, loose is the opposite of bound.  (See, it's not that different from the opposite of "tight.")  But lose is the opposite of win, or the opposite of find.  "Loose" rhymes with "goose," but "lose" rhymes with "ooze."  Yes, the single-O or double-O doesn't change the vowel sound in those words; the number of O's changes the S-sound from ssss to zzzzz.

Shall we all recite the quote together?
"I do not think that word means what you think it means."

 And thus concludes my current rant about spelling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reading Challenge

"A Little Help from My Friends"
Reading Challenge

Get a list of book suggestions from your friends.  From those suggestions choose between five and ten books that you will read in 2013.  Make a list of the books that you will read and a few alternates.
And the other instructions can be found on Jane's site.

My list:
Anne of Green Gables   by L. M. Montgomery  
Anne of Avonlea   (these two with Maggie)
Mara, Daughter of the Nile   by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Love Divine   by Alan Kornacki
Mitford's Out to Canaan    by Jan Karon
Christ Have Mercy   by Matt Harrison

The list that someone else made for me:
Lutheran Catechesis   by Bender
Old Testament Catechesis   by Bender
New Testament Catechesis    by Bender
Bible Stories for Daily Prayer    by Fabrizius

Kristin Lavransdatter  by Sigrid Undset
To Kill a Mockingbird   by  Harper Lee
Luther, the Reformer   by James Kittelson
The Right to Be Wrong   by Seamus Hasson
On Being a Theologian of the Cross   by Forde
Luther on Vocation   by Wingren

Well, I've never before set up a reading challenge for myself.  Many of my friends do so annually.  I am jealous.  But Jane has devised a teeny-tiny reading challenge (possibly just to encourage me, because she loves me).  I may not be up to the challenge; I may fail.  BUT I have a shot at it -- unlike most reading challenges which are entirely out of the realm of possibility.  Unless I want to quit homeschooling, quit cooking, quit cleaning, quit choir, quit gardening, and quit editing.  And I don't wanna quit those things.  So Mini Reading Challenge, here I come!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gorgeously Appareled

1.  The color of our purple paraments is rich and beautiful!  

2.  When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent some of his disciples to question Jesus about whether He was the Messiah promised in the Scriptures.  Jesus responded, and then talked to the crowds about John.  "What did you go out to see?"  He said, “Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts” (Luke 7)

1+2 =  The guy reading that Gospel to us on Sunday was "gorgeously appareled" in a purple chasuble.  

Given the context of what Jesus was talking about, the gorgeous apparel kind of shook me up there for a moment.  But I guess when we are in the Divine Service, we are living in luxury; we are in the King's court.

Sunday School Program

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Marilla Thing

Having recently been on the receiving end of some good-natured teasing about "being bipolar," I'm pondering this section of what Maggie and I read today.  How does a person moderate herself?  And what does it do when we try to change someone's nature, another's or our own?

From chapter 22 of Anne of Green Gables:

For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature.  All "spirit and fire and dew," as she was, the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity.  Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul, and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate.  Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows.  She did not make much headway, as she sorrowfully admitted to herself.  The downfall of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into "deeps of affliction."  The fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms of delight.  Marilla had almost begun to despair of ever fashioning this waif of the world into her model little girl of demure manners and prim deportment.  Neither would she have believed that she really liked Anne much better as she was. 

does this have anything to do with what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12 about the thorn in his flesh and being "exalted beyond measure by the abundance of the revelations"?

Monday, December 17, 2012


Not like I wear make-up very often.  But I did want to look a little special for Gary's Christmas party at work on Saturday.  I might've spent a whole minute-and-a-half applying make-up that day.  Maybe even two minutes!

So Sunday afternoon my eyes started itching.  By bedtime they were beginning to be goopy.  This morning I headed off to work looking as if I'd been crying for hours.  After many trips to the bathroom to wash my eyes today, the redness has subsided and the itchiness is nearly gone.

Good-bye make-up.

I can't wear earrings anymore.
Pretty shoes are impossible.
My hair is thinning.
And now make-up is off-limits too.
I guess it's time for any remnants of vanity to be destroyed, eh?
Time to embrace the aging frumpiness....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Yesterday's Tragedy

Customers began coming in to the bank, asking if we'd heard the news.  We hadn't.  All through the afternoon, it seemed that people who hadn't heard would hop into their car, head out to do errands, turn on the radio, and come into the bank and have to say something.  They couldn't just hear the news and go on; it was imperative that they express their horror to someone.

What troubles me is that I wasn't surprised.  Saddened, indeed!  But not shocked.

Yet nights will bring their sadness
and rob our hearts of peace,
and sin in all its madness
around us may increase.
But still one Star is beaming
whose rays have pierced the night:
God comes for our redeeming
from sin's oppressive might.  (LSB 337)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Beautiful Synod, Warts and All

It would be cool if Pastor Esget were more a friend than a friendly acquaintance to me.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the brief times I've had opportunity to spend with him.  I love reading what he writes and the rare chances to listen when he speaks.  He's been on sabbatical recently, and he wrote about his visits to different congregations, in particular an Orthodox church and a mega-church.

He said of the sermon at the Orthodox church:   "With only the slightest alterations, the sermon could have been heard in any Baptist or Methodist church."

He summarized his visits to the two congregations thusly:  "I was in awe of the organization, money, screens, facilities, and volunteer power at McLean Bible Church. I was filled with joy by the beautiful choir, chants, incense, icons, and sense of culture at St. Nicholas. But in neither place did I hear a single word of Gospel preached."

And he reflected on the experience: "I wouldn’t trade Lutheranism in general or Immanuel in particular—despite all the problems which it would take volumes to list—for the treasures of those places. The Word of God lives at St. Nicholas on account of the liturgy. I trust that the people at MBC are, to some extent, reading the Scriptures. But one of the things this sabbatical reenforced for me is how wonderful it is to be part of the Missouri Synod, where for all her hideous warts and defects the Gospel still is preached."

And thank You, Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Current Events

Gary has been teaching a college class for the local satellite of Concordia University.  It's been quite the challenge time-wise.  It's his first time teaching this class, which means he has to read the textbook and figure out what's wrong in it so that he can remedy the problems while teaching.  Then there's the to-be-expected teaching and grading.   As has occurred before, students comment that they learn more about writing from him (in theology class) than they learned from their writing profs; he takes his grading duties seriously.  One more class, and then we will get to see him occasionally again!

This week was the first time since October where I was scheduled at work for my 2.5 days and nothing else.  I was looking forward to three days in a row of housework, homeschooling, cooking, Christmas prep, and catching up on projects.  Didn't happen.

Gary's mom had a relatively minor stroke this weekend.  After five days in the hospital, she will be moving to rehab.  We drove down to see her this week.  While there, we drove over to see my mom too.  Boy, that was a nice visit!  (Sorry, Mom, there were other little things I wanted to do and didn't get to.  But the chatting time was a joy!)  Another happy surprise was arriving home to find that Maggie had mopped, had cleaned bathrooms, and had done laundry.

Looking like quite the idiot today, I mowed.  In December.  In Wisconsin.  The mower hadn't been drained of oil and gasoline last time it was used.  So I turned it on and let it idle.  In an attempt to hurry the consumption of fuel, I took the machine out in the yard where the grass was longest and mowed.  So far there has been no sign that the neighbors reported me to the authorities for mental instability.

I've done a little Christmas shopping.  Not much.  I wonder when it will happen.  I expect the tree will go up sometime next week.  In non-Christmas activities, today I dusted the guts of the computer, hung up the bikes from the garage ceiling, and hunted up the snow shovels and snow blower.  I did not, however, get around to repairing the wash machine; I may regret this soon.  Only 794 items left on this week's to-do list...

Andrew keeps coming home with stories of clients who appreciate him and think he's wonderful.  (Smart clients.)   Also, he finished his fall semester today.

Maggie and I are reading Anne of Green Gables.  It's amazing how closely the movie sticks to the book!  What's also amazing (in a less salutary fashion) is the gross number of misspellings in my copy of the book.  It's a fun story -- and made even funnier sometimes by the typos.  (For example, sometimes "Marilla" is spelled "Manila" and sometimes even "Mania.")

Paul has a job offer.  It's not the job he really wants; he's still waiting to hear back from the other company.  I don't envy him having to decide what to do.  I keep praying that God will make the decision simple for him and that He will guide Paul to the better job (even if a different job has certain attractions to it). 

I managed to burn the green beans tonight.  What a mess in the cast-iron skillet!  It required so much scrubbing that the skillet will need serious re-seasoning.  Maggie is excited because that means pancakes. 

There's more to say, but it's past bedtime.  I miss my writing time.  But hey, I also miss my sleeping time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Lord Does Not Change

The Israelites kept wandering from the Lord.
They certainly deserved His punishment.
They deserved to be abandoned by Him.

But what does Malachi preach to them?

I am the Lord;
I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed.  (Malachi 3:6)



No matter what we deserve, He does not change.
He remains merciful.
He remains faithful to His promise.
He is the Lord, the God of the promise of salvation.
And He does not change.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Daniel's Service to Nebuchadnezzar

Pastor commented recently in Bible class about how Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego served the Bad Guy.  They were faithful Jews/Christians, even though they were civil servants in Babylon.  Pastor said it was something to ponder with regard to our vocation as citizens.

After he pointed this out, I went and checked out the dating.  Wow -- Daniel was nabbed the first time Babylon came in and overran Jerusalem.  According to the stories in Chronicles and the first chapter of Daniel, those bright young men would have been taken, oh, say, 15-20 years before the temple was destroyed and the whole country was stomped on.  And while Daniel faithfully prayed for God's will and for right worship and for faith among his countrymen, he was a government official serving the king who was destroying Judah.   It looks like Daniel was helping Nebuchadnezzar who was sent by God to punish Israel.  How weird would that be? 

I think maybe there is something to ponder there.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Shall We DO?

In Luke 3, in the story of John's preaching and baptizing, we hear three times that different groups of people come and ask him, "What shall we do?"  And John gives such a "boring" answer.  He doesn't come up with a big ol' list of meritorious works.  He didn't suggest the things Tetzel advised.  He certainly doesn't come up with the kind of answers that tv preachers do.  He basically says, "Just keep doing your job.  But don't steal.  Don't lie.  Don't bully.  Oh, and if you have plenty, share with those who have nothing."  Nothing flashy.  Just do what God's given you to do, where He's put you.  And it won't earn you anything.  It's just what you do...

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Luke 3:20

At the end of the story about John the Baptist preaching repentance, we hear that Herod had been rebuked by John for the shenanigans with Herodias and "for all the evils which Herod had done."  So Herod threw John into prison, adding this evil above all to the other evils he had done.

When you think of all the scandalous things that went on in the palace, all the abuses of authority, those little words "above all" make quite a statement.  Lock up the preacher and refuse to hear him?  Luke seems to think that's worse than the adultery and all the other sins Herod committed?  It's almost like an object lesson in the preeminence of the First Table of the Law.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Wasted Time?

I just spent a chunk o' time setting up my 2013 files in the computer for the budget and photos.  If the Mayans are right, I just wasted the last hour.

Friday, December 07, 2012

And I Know Them

My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me, ...   (John 10:27)

Pastor pointed out on Sunday:  "I know them."  

Even though He KNOWS us, He still calls us to be His own.
Even though He KNOWS us, He remains faithful.

And because He KNOWS us, He knows how desperately we need to be saved.

So He gives us eternal life and allows no one to snatch us out of His hand.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Jesus' Assessment of Us

In the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prays,
"You gave them to Me, 
and they have kept Your word.... 
 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; 
and they have received them, 
 and have known surely that I came forth from You; 
 and they have believed that You sent Me." (John 17:6, 8) 


The disciples had kept God's Word?
And they knew for sure that Jesus came from the Father?
And they believed that God had sent Him?
And they received His Word?

Sometimes I think, "Hey, were You looking at the same set of stories I'm lookin' at?"

Arguments about which of the apostles was the greatest.
Arguments over money being wasted on anointing oil for anoint Jesus.
Questions about Jesus' preaching.
Rejection of His words about going to Jerusalem to suffer.
The desire for their leader to kick Roman butt.

And on top of this, Jesus knew that He was about to be betrayed, and that Peter would deny Him, and that all His followers would abandon Him before the night was over. And yet, He says, "They have kept Your word." In spite of who they were, He says, "They received My words." Even though they seemed to be chock-full of unbelief, He says, "They have believed that You sent Me."

And here's the wonder of wonders --
He says the same about me.

He says that I believe in Him, that I cling to His Word.
That's what He declares me to be.
That's how He sees me.
And that is (slowly) what He forms me to be.

It's a wonder!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Probably My Favorite C. S. Lewis Quote

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's "own," or "real" life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Her Uncomfortable Ignorance

"Marilla really did not know how to talk to the child, and her uncomfortable ignorance made her crisp and curt when she did not mean to be."
  (From chapter 4 of Anne of Green Gables,
 on Anne's first morning in Avonlea)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Ears on That CAT!

We do not own an electric can opener.  Our can opener is a quiet little hand-crank thing.  Last night I opened a can of tuna.  Athena was downstairs, at the other end of the house, asleep.  Maggie asked quietly, "Shall I call KKK?"  "No," I answered, also quietly, "wait until I open the other can of tuna."

Moments later, the cat arrives in the kitchen, meowing piteously and smooching up against our legs.

Really?  Did she smell it?  Mere moments later, that far away?  Has she learned that "KKK" usually means "Come and Get It!"?  Has she learned what t-u-n-a means?

My jaw dropped and we laughed.  I have no idea what drew her to the kitchen, but she knew.

Then today I was proofreading.  I ran across Pastor's commentary on John 10 ["My sheep hear My voice ...]. 
The voice of the shepherd is familiar to his sheep.  They have learned to know the voice as their source of food, drink, safety, and well-being.
Wow.   Can you even imagine listening to God as attentively as Athena listens for hints of tuna?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Argh!  I'm always using the home passwords at work, and now I'm trying to type work-passwords into the URL of the home computer.  My brain is overfull of passwords!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Last Tuesday the knot in my neck and the messed-up shoulder blade were giving me a royal headache -- a headache humongous enough that I (anti-pill gal that I am) ran for the bottle of pain killers.  Well, that's a lie.  I didn't run; I hurt too badly.  But I took drugs nonetheless.  At one point in the afternoon, Maggie walked into the living room to find me reading and lying on the couch, grimacing as the electric back massager pounded my back and neck.  She blurted out, "MOM!  You're lying on the couch, reading.  You haven't done that in years!"

Right.  I hadn't done that in years.

I wish I could. 

My friend Jane reads.  She reads even more than I used to once-upon-a-time.  Which means she now reads more in a week than I do in a year.  Every November and December, when my friends set out their reading goals and their reading challenges for the new year, I sigh and try not to be too jealous.  But this year, Jane has set up her own challenge which is small enough that it might be possible even for me

I think I'm going to gather a list of books.

The worst that can happen is that I fail to meet the challenge.

I hate promising things that I might not be able to keep.

So no promises that I'll succeed.

Nevertheless, I will begin compiling a list that might, possibly, maybe, be read.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gettin' Me a New Daughter

Paul proposed.
Mandy said yes.
This is a marvelous thing!

When Paul and Mandy were here visiting last month, she left her jacket.  Paul always leaves things when he visits.  When I discovered the shipping costs for the jacket, and when I discovered that she had other jackets, I decided to just hang onto it and give it back to her next time we see her.  A week later, when I had to move the jacket off the ironing board, a wild and wacky thought occurred to me: "What if we wouldn't see her again?  What if they broke up?  Boy, it would be awkward to return the jacket then."  But then I consoled myself.  Breaking up?  What a silly notion!!

I recently bought little presents for all the daughters.  I bought one for Mandy too.  Presumptuous of me, I know.  But it's all good:  in less than a day, Paul called with the news.  Yee haw!!

Pre-Verbal Learning

Liz posted this picture yesterday of the competition between the fire departments.  For those of you who don't live in small towns, it's kind of like football or a tug-of-war.  The barrel hangs high on a line between two poles, and the teams squirt water in an effort to send the barrel sliding all the way to the other team's pole.

Whenever I see these contests, I begin to ponder again how kids learn before they are verbal.   You see, many years ago, we attended a celebration in the twin cities of Tiffany and Shopiere.  One of the boys (I think it was Andrew) was too little to talk.  We petted goats.  We watched the parade.  We watched the firemen's contests.  Nice day.  Nothing notable.

A couple of years later, the munchkin-in-question was explaining to me how that contest worked, how the water from the hoses moved the barrel along the rope.  He had questions.  But he also had some pretty clear memories and was able to verbalize what had happened that day. 

I think in words.  I communicate with words.  I attach words to images and sounds and smells and feelings.  It still boggles my mind to consider how those memories (a half-lifetime past for Andrew) were stored, without words, without explanations, but just as images, and how they poured out in words once the words were accessible.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Updates which may bore people who aren't my mom --

Gary has been teaching a class at the Waukesha campus of Concordia--Wisconsin.  Enjoyable.  But a LOT of work when he has to read all the texts for the first time, prep for class, and grade papers and quizzes and online discussion.

We had Katie's family and Philip here for dinner on Thursday.  It was a nice day.  Rachel and Matt's plans ended up being changed for them, so they ended up not being here for half of Friday as expected.  We'll have to plan for another time. 

I think next year I'll plan to make the turkey ahead of time as I did this year.  It's wonderful to come home from church, cook the vegetables and the mashed potatoes, reheat the turkey, and sit down to eat.  No carving.  No bones to deal with.  No stock to make.  No messy, greasy pans to wash.  Easy breezy!

We had a friendly argument at work on Monday as to whether the Christmas music should start up on the day after Thanksgiving.  My vote was to wait at least two weeks after Thanksgiving, but couldn't we pleeeeease wait at least until December?  But no, the Christmas music has begun.  And it's not even the good stuff that played last year, when two or three times each hour I heard "Son of the Father, now in flesh appearing; oh, come let us adore Him" and "veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity" with a grateful heart.  No, this year it's about sleighing and fireplaces and shopping and stuff like that.  And I'm already perturbed about it, and it's still a full month until Christmas.  And I work full-time next week.

Last night I was reading the first chapter of the first Fred book to Alia.  All of a sudden, she just fell over and smashed her head against the table.  We got the ice pack for her.  She cried from the hard bump.  But what was more of a concern was why she crashed that way.  Eventually she mentioned to Katie that everything got black right before she hit her head.  They ended up in the ER because there was no explicable reason for a 4-yr-old to faint out of nowhere.  Follow-up appointments are scheduled for Monday.

Zoe is just barely beginning to talk.  She also has a new "thing" at church: she grabs my finger after chapel and drags me up to the altar rail and wants me to show her the candles and the lamb on the altar and wants to talk about the crucifix.  Happiness!

Maggie is going to drag me to the neighbor's barn now.  So I have to quit typing. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So Many Dishes to Wash!

I think I washed dishes eight times on Tuesday before I asked one of the kids to help.

Wednesday looked to be another day full of dishes.  I knew I was going to be washing and drying bowls and knives and beaters and pots immediately after they were used so that they could be pressed into service for yet another cooking project.  Dishes dishes dishes!

So what's the problem here, really?

1.  I have food enough to dirty all these dishes and pans and spoons and mixing bowls.

2.  I have indoor plumbing and a seemingly endless supply of hot water to clean these dishes.

3.  I have dear people to feast with me tomorrow.  I'm not cooking for only one or two people.   There will be a big enough crowd around my table that I have plenty of kitchen work to consume two days in preparation.

So, what's the downside?  Sounds like a fabulous position to be in!

So bring on the hand cream!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Are These Prayers About, Anyway?

We pray that evil be thwarted; we pray for an end to abortion and other murders; we pray that people are safe; we pray that people do not betray others. 


A big part of it is for the sake of life.  Those babies should live and not die.  The victims of violent crime should have been safe.  Those who are betrayed should have continued to enjoy fellowship with the loved one.

But that's not all.

We pray also for the sake of the one who's inflicting the harm.  Remember in Harry Potter, how it "ripped the soul" to make a horcrux?  Remember how horrifying it was when it became apparent that Tom Riddle had made more than one?  Oh, what it would do to his soul!  Think about it -- it would "rip the soul" to murder or betray.  When we pray against abortion, it's not just for the sake of the babies; it's also for the sake of the abortionist and that he not destroy himself through his violent job.  When we pray for peace in the world and for safety in our communities, it's not just for the sake of the law-abiding citizens; it's also so that the criminals not continue to warp themselves through their lovelessness and destruction.

"But deliver us from evil."


Monday, November 19, 2012

"See His Desire on His Enemies"

For He has delivered me out of all trouble; 
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.  (Psalm 54)

The same sort of line shows up in Psalms 59, 92, and 112.  And I guess I'd always read it as, "Yup, you're so gonna get it!"

Now, I freely admit that I do not know Hebrew, and I'm basing this observation entirely on English translations.  But what if it's not about our enemies finally getting the punishment we think they deserve?

When they were nailing Jesus to the cross, He desired their forgiveness.  He prayed for His enemies.  "God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2).

Hmmm.  In the Good Friday reading from Isaiah we hear that the Christ will "see the labor of His soul and be satisfied."  Saving us is satisfying to Him.

That makes "My eye has seen its desire upon my enemies" take on an entirely different hue.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanks for What?

Last year, Pastor Bender spoke on Issues Etc about thankfulness, why we are thankful (or not), how the gifts God provides can become idols, and what we're thankful for when we don't have the things we seem to need. This discussion of the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer makes for lovely listening as we approach Thanksgiving.

Kelp and Hot Flashes

One of my daughters (a lonnnng way off from menopause) mentioned that she sometimes uses refined salt because of the iodine content.  When she was exclusively on unrefined salt, she began having hot flashes.  She discovered that one symptom of iodine deficiency can be hot flashes.

Quite a few years ago, we bought a bottle of kelp supplements -- essentially seaweed in capsule form and thus full of iodine.  This summer I began taking a few capsules each week for the mere reason of thinking there was nutrition there that ought not go to waste.  But after hearing about my daughter's experience, it clicked: it's the kelp that has been keeping my hot flashes at bay.  Not the supplements aimed at menopause-type symptoms. 

So now I'm more careful to remember my kelp, and I'm having no problem with hot flashes anymore.  The downside of this is that --this year-- I'm needing sweaters and socks as the cool weather sets in.  Well ... better than growing me a goiter!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Psalm 111:4

He has made His wonderful works to be remembered. (Ps 111)

Not only has He done wonderful works.

But He also makes sure that we (we who are weak, we who cannot remember, we who cannot by our own reason or strength believe) know of His wonderful works.

Sometimes I worry that I cannot possibly remain in the faith for the rest of my life.  But hey, I'm not the one who keeps me believing anyhow.  He makes His wonderful works to be remembered!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Dishes

The old dishes were annoying us.  Quite a few had broken.  The bowls didn't stack, and thus hogged too much space in cupboards.  The plates were so flat that, when carried to the sink after a meal, silverware and salad dressing and meat juice would slide off the plate and fall on the floor.  But even cheap dishes ($3 per place setting) seem too pricey when we already have dishes.

So every trip to Goodwill included a scan of the dishes-section.
#1 --  "Do the bowls stack nicely?" 
#2 --  "Are there enough place settings?"
#3 --  "Is there some sort of raised edge on the plates?"
#4 --  "Ugly, tolerable, nice, or pretty?"

Last month I finally found bowls that stacked, plates that weren't too flat, with plenty of pieces for four people.  On top of that, there were several serving pieces in the set.  My only problem was that the dishes are SO pretty.  Could I buy them?  Would the men in the house be bothered by the flowers? 

Less than $20 for 26 pieces.  And the guys are okay with new set.  Woo hoo!  And not once has a knife slid off a plate as we clear the table after a meal. 

And I'm tickled -- they're SO pretty!!!  Sometimes it's the little things that make you smile!  As a friend said recently, "Never underestimate the power of a coffee mug that makes you happy."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where IS That Tree of Life Anyhow?

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, 
clear as crystal, 
proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 
In the middle of its street, 
and on either side of the river, 
was the tree of life, 
which bore twelve fruits, 
each tree yielding its fruit every month. (Rev 22:1-2)

Okay, okay.  I know that what John saw can't be described very easily, and that we're often told it's in "apocalyptic language" and all that jazz.  But still, there's this tree that's in the middle of the street (or is it in the midst of the river?) and it's on either side of the river. And I always thought, "I am just not getting the layout of this picture here.  What's where?"  But then I noticed something in church.

First, we know that the tree of life is connected to Jesus' cross (a tree!) and that the fruits of this tree are for our healing.  Second, we know that blood and water came from that tree, from Jesus' side, and that we are saved via baptism (water) and the Lord's Supper (blood).  (And if you don't believe me on that, take a peek at 1 John 5.)

So here's what I'm pondering about this whole "location thing" of this tree:
When you look at the altar on Sunday morning, the chalice and the paten are in the "middle of the street," kinda.  Y'know, they're in the center.  If you're walking up the center aisle of church, they're smack-dab in front of you.  But then, what happens during the distribution?  The pastor is taking of that "tree," that fruit, to the communicants kneeling along the altar rail, "on either side of the river."  So it's in the middle and it's on either side.  I think that's cool.

Maybe this is silly.  But it takes what seems to me to be an unwieldy picture and makes it a little more understandable.  And it dovetails with what we know about the worship life of the Church and so much of the imagery used throughout Scriptures.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Counterfeit Money

I have seen counterfeit money at work that is fresh off the presses, crisp, new, and fake.  Counterfeits are more likely to be "distressed" though -- crumpled and a bit dirty.  The counterfeiters know that a fresh bill is more likely to catch attention.  (And fresh ones do.  Even the real money that is bright and crisp gets my attention, and I examine it a bit more than normal.)

But the fakes I've encountered over the last couple of months have been in horrible shape.  They've been so faded they're barely legible.  Thing is, that can happen to real money too.  Some of the counterfeits have been torn in two and taped together (one with masking tape instead of clear tape).  But we see that too in real money.  Some of the counterfeits have a humongous black mark on it, from Sharpie or dirt.  That too can happen with real bills.  It seems that the thieves are hiding their counterfeits by making the money look so bad that people assume the badness of the money is from how crumpled & torn & marked & faded instead of noticing that the badness is from its being FAKE. 

Moral of the story: go ahead and be suspicious of really cruddy bills. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Come Unto Me, and I Will Give You Rest

And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again and arms are strong.

Ah, how hungers all my spirit
for the love I do not merit!
Oft have I with sighs fast thronging
thought upon this food with longing,
in the battle well-nigh worsted
for this cup of life have thirsted,
for the Friend who here invites us
and to God Himself unites us.

Weary am I and heavy-laden.
With sin my soul is sore oppressed.
Receive me graciously and gladden my heart
which here is now Thy guest.
Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood
be for my soul the highest good.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Look at that!  All three of those hymns say the exact same thing! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Anthropomorphizing God?

The math books we're using this year are marvelous.   They cover all sorts of non-math stuff too!  So last week we were reading about anthropomorphizing* pets.  Or a chair.  Or a clock.  Or the sun.  The author also mentioned that some people anthropomorphize God.

Think about that.

Can somebody anthropomorphize YOU in a story?  Can a news article anthropomorphize a rock star or a politician? 

It's nonsensical. 

So how can GOD be anthropomorphized?

Sure, you can do it if you're Muslim or Jewish or Hindu.  You might even think it's possible to anthropomorphize God if you believe what too many Christians believe: that Jesus quit being a man and went back to being "just God" when He ascended to the Father's right hand. 

But we trust in a God who was incarnate.  Our God is a man.  So how can we even talk about "anthropomorphizing" somebody who's human?

* footnote: ascribing human characteristics 
to a non-human creature or object

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Christmas Lights

We came home on Tuesday night to find a massive amount of Christmas lights decorating a tree in our yard.

We didn't put them there.  The neighbor did. 

Gary said the wife asked (after she saw what the husband did) if it would be okay or if they should take the light-strands down.  So it appears she has some understanding of our yard as differentiated from their yard.

But there's still something uncomfortable about seeing that display.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Terminal Illness

(At risk of offending Jenny and sending her running away, with her fingers in her ears, singing "La la la la la la la....  I can't hear yooooooouu....")

There is a certain amount of mourning to go through upon receiving the diagnosis of a terminal illness.  It shocks.  It saddens.  It often forces one into involuntary fasting.  It drives us to prayer.

But then life goes on.  For a while.  Maybe longer than the doctor expected.  Maybe shorter.  But the life that goes on, goes on with a changed perspective.  (Remember that country song, "I hope you get a chance to live like you were dying"?)

There are certain economic realities.  Believing that these economic principles are just somebody's "beliefs" or somebody's opinion Does Not Change the fact that these economic principles are incontrovertible truths.  When these economic laws are transgressed, there will be consequences.  (It's no different from my believing that I can fly will result in my smashing onto the ground when I "fly" off the roof of the house.)

Tuesday's vote totals were not due to voter fraud.  Tuesday's decision was a revelation of the will of the American people. Tuesday was a turning point in American history.  (Or maybe election day of 2008 was, but this Tuesday showed that November 2008 wasn't a fluke.)

So now we mourn the diagnosis.  No, we don't know when the end will come.  But we live with two realities: the days are numbered, and God still blesses.  We pray "Give us this day our daily bread" with a greater understanding of the "dailiness" and less reliance on our own strength to provide for ourselves.  We live with uncertainty about the future of our temporal existence, with nothing to rely on but the Lord's gracious promises.  We cannot count on a future of prosperity and a retirement laced with world travel, so we will be content to take each day as it comes, thankful for whatever joys of life and family and creature-comforts we happen to have at the moment.

And that's not necessarily a bad place to be.
We don't like having our idols taken away.  But when we do, there is only One who remains true and faithful and inflinchingly for us.  

"This is the victory that overcomes the world -- even our Faith."

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

To the Polls

One 5-quart crockpot full of African peanut soup.  Bowls, spoons, ladle.
Hummus, sliced cucumbers, and pita chips.
Fresh salsa, guacamole, and tortilla chips.
Hot pot, tea bags, stevia, and mugs.
Water bottles full of good water from home (in hopes of avoiding the city water for at least part of the day).
Teriyaki beef jerkey, cashews, and trail mix.
Apples, pineapple chunks, cherry tomatoes, and tangerines.

It's going to be a LONG day at the polls.  The township provides donuts for breakfast, and sends along some white-bread buns & bagels to help with the pollworkers' lunch.  I do not need to start a long and stressful day on a sugar-&-white-bread fix.  So I'm taking along MY version of yummy comfort foods.

The prospect of out-of-state poll watchers scares me.  I guess part of the point is that they want to be intimidating, huh?

So how exhausted will I be, come evening?  Fall-into-bed tired?  Or so curious as to need to watch some election results?

Monday, November 05, 2012

Gary's Back

Three weeks ago Gary hurt his back by committing the wild and crazy act of [gasp!] setting a coffee cup on his desk.  After several doctor visits, four days of working from home, lots of drugs, and six days of being [self-]banned from driving, he began to improve. 
God answered our prayers and decreased Gary's pain, increased his mobility, and provided the above torture device equipment via Craigslist.  (Torture device:  look how red his face is!)  The doctor suggested borrowing an inversion table from somebody to see if it might help.  Finding nothing to borrow, we were thankful to find one on Craigslist the very next day for a great price and only a half-hour away.

The inversion table has helped tremendously.  Gary even mowed the lawn today!

We stumbled over the inversion table which sat smack-dab in the middle of the living room for over a week.  But now Gary needs it only once or twice a day (instead of 4+ times daily) and Gary's capable of walking up and down the stairs easily [woo hoo!]. So it was time to relegate the torture device to the dungeon basement.

This involved a massive rearrangement of the basement.  Bookshelves were moved.  (Argh!  That is always SO much work!!)  We dusted and vacuumed.  Hardest of all, I sorted through some stuff to pitch.  Ow, ow, owie!  It hurts to throw away perfectly good homeschooling software just because the programs are too obsolete to run on any computer we've got around here.  It hurts to throw out vcr tapes of movies I love; but who wants videotapes these days?  The garbage stack will be big this week.  The finished part of the basement is opened, neatened, put in order, and cleaned. 

And we can walk through the living room again.

October Confirmations at Church

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Alia's Theology

My 3-yr-old-at-the-time granddaughter drew this picture recently.  It was one of many, including making some letters, drawing a chicken, and some plain old scribbling.  But her mother wanted to get a picture of this one before it was erased for whatever-came-next.

The Aftermath of the Election

I just realized today that I haven't been praying too much about the outcome of the election.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've been praying more for how the people respond to the election results. 

Four years ago I remember people talked about how great it is that, in America, unlike some other nations, there was a peaceful transfer of power.  [Assuming the incumbent is not re-elected] will we be saying the same thing next year about this transfer of power?

Today in the prayer of the Church, we asked for "faithful citizens."  That's about Tuesday.  But it's also about the days and weeks following Tuesday.  Lord, have mercy.

Friday, November 02, 2012


Paul and Mandy in their Halloween best!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Those Martyrs

Excuse me for a brief ADD moment regarding Romans 5:

For when we were still without strength,
in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die;
yet perhaps 
for a good man someone would even dare to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners, 
Christ died for us.   (Romans 5)

So Jesus told John Mark (aka, the "rich young ruler") that no one was good but God. 

Jesus IS the "good man."

Perhaps for a good man --for the Good Man-- someone would maybe possibly dare even to die.   "Those martyrs stand, a priestly band, God's throne forever near."

Ah, but that's not Paul's point here.  His point is that Christ does what none of us could ever do: He dies for the ungodly, for sinners, for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why It's Hard to Pray

from John Kleinig (not a quote but the gist of what he said) --

You find it hard to pray?  You intend to have family devotions every evening?  You intend to do a better job this time of sticking to your private prayers each day?  But you keep failing!

That's exactly what the devil wants!  Your failure to pray doesn't mean you're a failure at it and therefore should give up.  Your failure to pray is, instead, proof that the devil is out to stop you at all costs.  Your failures are, oddly, evidence of how important your prayers are!

And maybe if you know how important it is to Satan that you don't pray, maybe it will be easier to persevere in your prayers, going to your Father who invites you, who offers you help, who promises to hear.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Country Dancing

Mr Toad's Character

What a difference 100 years can make!

Background:  Maggie and I weren't sure what new book to start after our last read-aloud concluded.  We'd run across a reference to The Wind in the Willows in her math book [yes, I did say math book, odd as that may sound to those of you who don't know Fred] and I realized that Maggie had not heard TWitW last time the family had read it.  [Amazing problem that homeschool mothers have!  Some children have the audacity to not be born yet when you did something that all the kids were supposed to experience for "school."] So anyway, we grabbed a copy from the library and started reading.  I enjoyed the book well enough when we read it 20 years ago, but I'm finding it positively delightful this time!!  Maggie appears to be finding it acceptable. 

In The Wind in the Willows, Mr Toad likes new things.  He likes nice clothes.  He flits from one new curiosity/passion to another.  When he fell in love with boating, he ditched his previous passions.  When he decided to go traveling in a gypsy carriage, he was done-done-done with boating.  When he discovered a motor car, he promptly dropped his interest in traveling in his gypsy carriage. 

My impression is that, when the book was written, this Affinity For The New was seen as a character flaw.  Most of the other animals were more content with their place in life and with the simple pleasures of their surroundings.  Not Mr Toad.  The other critters bore with Mr Toad's idiosyncrasies.  He was curious about new things and always wanted to find out more about whatever-was-novel-today.

Today, in our society, in our economy, it's all flip-flopped.  Contentment is not considered good.  It's often considered hokey.  It's often considered unpatriotic (as contentment won't boost consumerism).  And it's definitely considered "dull."  Desire-for-the-new is held up as a cherished characteristic. 

We even run political campaigns with the promise of CHANGE.

My, how values have ... uh ... changed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I have gobs of pictures to download off my camera. But in the meantime I will steal borrow some other people's snapshots.
Alia raking leaves.

Our friend Rachel caught a lovely picture of Maggie!

Olivia and Andrew.

Olivia and Maggie.

Mandy and Paul.

Zoe in the pile of leaves.

Surely in Temples Made with Hands...

I used to love "Built on the Rock the Church Doth Stand."  It has some great lines and a good, strong tune. 

But when I began to understand that Jesus really truly IS there in the Divine Service -- there in His word -- there in the Supper -- there in the preaching -- there in the absolving -- I began to be troubled by
Surely in temples made with hands
God the most high is not dwelling.
High above earth His temple stands,
all earthly temples excelling.
But He is dwelling here, in this building, in this nave, in this chancel, on this altar.  He is!

When I crabbed about that line to Pastor Wiest, he told me to "take it up with Paul" because it's exactly what the apostle said when he was preaching in Athens, at Mars Hill.  Well, just go and hog-tie me, Pastor Wiest!  Darn it, how can I argue with the apostle who was inspired by God to say it?

But it still bothered me.

So after church today we looked at the Greek.  And now it makes a little more sense.  All through John -- especially where Jesus talks about abiding in the word, and abiding in the Spirit, and abiding in Him, and His abiding in us -- it's a different word.  It's not the same kind of "dwell."  So often "dwelling" is "living" or "abiding" or "remaining."  But at Mars Hill, when Paul said that God does not "dwell" in earthly temples, it's more like God isn't housed in earthly temples, like, y'know, "contained."  

Well, now, that makes loads more sense. 

He does abide here in our churches.  He does remain there.  He does dwell with us there.  But He's not limited there; He's not locked up there.

So now I'm wondering what impression the song gives other people.  Maybe I'm the only one.  Maybe everybody else thinks it's a no-brainer that God is everywhere and yet at the same time is specially located in the holy place of our churches.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hush That Timer!

Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.

"Whose timer?'
Nobody answers.

"Hey, Andrew, is that your timer?"
"No, I didn't set it."

When I find Gary, "Hey, did you set the timer?"

When I find Maggie, "What's the timer for?"
"I don't know."

"Well, somebody must have set it for something."

But nobody owned up to it.

Oh yeah....
I wanted to remember to not forget the perma-press in the dryer.


Friday, October 26, 2012

A Story: The Dark Night of the Soul

One Tuesday evening twenty-some years ago, I sat in a classroom at the seminary with about 100 other women.  The sem offered mini-classes for wives, and this one was crowded because it was being led by a popular teacher.  One of the wives brought up her fear for the rest of us.  You see, according to her, the rest of us weren't really Christians.  We hadn't really turned our lives over to Jesus.  We hadn't really made Him lord of our lives.  She knew what we were like because she used to be one of us, thinking that she was a Christian.  But then, ah, then, she had a conversion experience, you see.  She wanted us to realize our dire straits so that we too might Make A Decision For Jesus and thus be saved.

Her proof-text for all this was from Matthew 7: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven....  I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, all you who practice lawlessness.'"  She accused the whole class of being the ones who thought they were doing the Lord's work but who would be surprised at the end of the world when Jesus says, "Get lost; I never knew you."

I remember well how the teacher/pastor let her keep talking.  I remember well how he said somberly, "Yes, that passage frightens me.  How do I know if I am the one to whom Jesus will say, 'Depart from Me'?"  I remember well how that evening terrified me.

For three weeks, life was hell.  I knew I couldn't pray for help.  After all, God only hears the prayers of Christians, and I obviously was not a Christian.  I don't think I talked to Gary about it at the time; it would be shameful to tell him about it.  I was afraid of death, afraid of a freak car accident or whatever might suddenly kill a 20-something gal.  Death meant an eternity in hell; I wasn't a Christian.  I was trapped in my imperfection.  I had no hope.  There was nothing I could do to ensure that I was living up to God's standards.  Nothing I could do to ensure His wrath would not zot me to hell. 

Then, blessedly, this came up, somehow, in a conversation with our pastor.  Tom Baker [no, not Four, and not Puddleglum, but the pastor] lavished the Gospel upon me.  He told me that Jesus was the one who baptized me.  He told me that God chose me, that I couldn't choose Him.  He told me that Jesus' death on the cross forgives my sin.  He kept telling me and telling me and telling me, forgiving me, blessing me, pointing me to Christ and His work instead of ro my navel-gazing.  I suppose it might have been a little like Luther's tower experience.  "You mean He forgives me?  Me?  But it really is true that I'm as sinful and unbelieving as this 'holy' woman accused.  And still, Jesus forgives me???"

Today I can see how God worked good through that hellish situation.  What the devil means for destruction, God uses to draw needy people to Himself.  I have had to learn again and again what Pastor Baker gave me that day, that week, that month.  Yes, the accusations of Satan (and that sem wife) on that horrible Tuesday night so long ago, ... the accusations are true.  But truer yet --and oh so much bigger-- is my Savior's love for me and His blood shed to save me. 

Through the years I wondered how the teacher could stand in front of class and allow that woman's accusations to stand unanswered.  Through the years I wondered if he too had been damned by her words.   Was the pastor so full of doubts that he could not defend the scores of women in the room that night?  Had someone come to him later with the good news of the forgiveness of sins?  Had someone brought him the peace that Pastor Baker brought to me?  How sad it would be to "hope"* that Jesus' righteousness would cover you, while continuing in the uncertainty that Jesus might instead announce on the Last Day, "I never knew you."

 *Footnote: Sometimes "hope" means
 a sure and certain hope, something 
that is incontrovertible.  But too often
 "hope" means merely wishful thinking.

In Christ Jesus 
we have boldness
and access  
with confidence
through faith in Him.   (Eph 3)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gobs of Tables

Today is garbage pick-up.

So we're driving to chapel this morning, and I see a table out with the neighbor's trash.   I was gripped by an overwhelming urge to brake and turn around and nab that table!

Maggie didn't understand.  She doesn't remember Nanna's basement.  Nobody in my family ever bought tables.  We just took one from the stash in my grandma's basement.  Why she had a penchant for collecting tables, I do not know.  But she did.

And as revealed by this morning's fight with myself over "To dumpster-dive, or not to dumpster-dive?  That is the question," there must be a smidge of Nanna's need-for-tables in my genetic make-up.

Loving the Beautiful People?

He has no form or comeliness.
And when we see Him, 
there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  (Isaiah 53)

Oh, so if there were beauty, 
then maybe we would desire Him.

In other words, 
we desire what pleases us, 
what makes us happy, 
what is beautiful to us.

"Well, DUH," you say. 
"Who desires what's despicable?" you say.

There is One who does.
How weird!
How blessedly weird!

And amazingly, that weird, unearned love makes the ugly one beautiful. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Demon Possession

"Can a Christian be demon possessed?"  I've lost count of how many times I've heard people ask that question.  And this week I heard a most awesome answer.

Christians can and will be attacked by the demons.  That's not possession; it's an attack.  A person may wonder if it's demon-possession.  It may feel the same.  It may appear to be the same.  But in the end, does it matter if we know whether it's an attack or possession?  After all, the remedy is the same thing: "Depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit!" ... and then the comfort of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus' sake is applied to the afflicted one.

How awesome is that?!


"O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise."

Is that really so difficult to say?

I recently attended a gathering.  The devotions had no invocation, no versicles, no creed, no hymn, no psalms, no canticles.  The devotions started with a religious reading, followed by a prayer.  You'd think we could have at least prayed the Lord's Prayer.  (Jesus did say, after all, "When you pray, say 'Our Father....'")

We've been reading John Kleinig's book Grace Upon Grace for Bible class this fall.  In it, he talks about how God's people are made holy by things like the invocation, creed, Our Father, and the benediction.  As I read that section of the book, I reflected on how impotent we think those words are.  They seem silly to most of us.  They seem little.  They seem like the same-old-same-old. 

And then you throw together more than a hundred Christians, and we pray, and I feel cheated (yes, cheated!) that we can't even say "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  We can't have someone read a psalm to which we can respond with the Gloria Patri.  We can't confess the Faith together -- "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth...." 

Really, dear pastors.  God gave you the words to say.  You can find them in the book.  He ordered you to speak them for my comfort, for my strengthening, for my life.  Would you please just say them?!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jereboam's Sign

The man of God was sent to Israel to prophesy to King Jereboam (1 Kings 13).  The Lord told the prophet not to eat or drink while he was there.  When the king invited him to stay for lunch, the prophet said no.  When a false prophet invited him for lunch, the Lord's prophet said no.  But then the false prophet scammed him, saying that the Lord had had sent a message for the guy to stay and eat after all.  So the prophet did.  I feel for the guy in the story.  He'd done the hard job of reporting bad news to the king. He'd already said "no thanks" a couple of times.  Then he listened when someone lied to him.  I can sympathize with his reticence to being rude to the men of Israel.

Still, he died.
The Lord said "Don't eat while you're there."
He ate.  He died.

It seems like such a small thing he did wrong.

But this is a sign to Jereboam.  Death was the result when Adam and Eve turned from God's word.  Because we forget those stories of ancient history, God gave a fresh sign to Jereboam: "Act contrary to the good word I have given you, and it will result in death."  If such a small disobedience resulted in the prophet's death, how could Jereboam ever hope to escape death for leading God's people into idolatry and false worship?  What God says will surely come to pass.