Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dirt Devil Hand Vacuum

One of my Christmas gifts was a hand vacuum for making it easier to clean the upholstered furniture and vacuum out the vehicles. 

What a bust!

The air filter clogs in a few minutes.  The filter can be cleaned and reused, but it cannot merely be tapped to knock dust loose.  I had to use a dry toothbrush to remove dust from the folds of the filter, and every time I used the machine, I spent as much time cleaning the filter as I did vacuuming.   The owner's manual says to change the air filter every 3-6 months.  It seems like changing it every hour would be the outside limit.  And these filters are $8 each.

When I asked for a refund, the company told me that I only had 30 days to return it.  A Christmas present that is purchased in early December means you have only a week or two to discover the problem and request your refund.  So now I have a machine that is fit only for the trash can.  I'd hate to take it to Goodwill and inflict it upon an unsuspecting customer there.

I spent half a year looking at Goodwill for a used Dirt Devil.  I finally stumbled upon one two days after buying this one online.  I didn't buy it.  Now I wish I'd nabbed that one anyway.  Those old ones actually worked! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Violating Consciences -- What's the Big Deal Anyway?

Don't make me sin.  The laws of the government ought not force people to transgress God's laws. 

Why not? 

Is it because I want to keep my holiness?  (Picture me with my nose in the air and my chest puffed up.)  "Oh, I'm so good and so pure.  I don't want to do anything naughty so that God would zot me."


The reason Christians don't want to be forced to sin is because of the other guy.  We don't want other people damaged.  We want to show mercy.  We yearn for others to know joy.  We desire that they live in peace. 

Is God going to send me to hell because my taxes are helping to pay for abortions?  Of course not.  But babies are dying.  When the government forces me to sin, it's not my own personal problem, but it's even more about the damage that is inflicted upon my neighbor.

I Didn't Cry

Gary's installation is scheduled for the early service on the day of the Goods and Services Auction.  That's an annual fund raiser for our congregation's school, and because of the time-frame for the auction, early service is VERY heavily attended that day, and late service has abnormally light attendance.  This makes the planning ideal: many people will be able to attend the installation.

It also means the "celebration dinner" will be just part of the party atmosphere at the auction.  Our first couple of years we didn't attend the auction.  One year we volunteered to work but didn't eat dinner at the country club.  Another year we were invited as guests of another family.  It sure is fun to be there!

So this morning, I'm filling out the reservation for our table and hauling out my checkbook to pay for our tickets.  Someone came along and saw what I was up to.  "NO," she said.  She told me I couldn't do that.  She told me it would be nonsense for us to pay for tickets for "our own party."    I don't quite know what happened.  I'm not sure who's paying for our dinners.  But we aren't.

I remember discussions about the turkey-dinner fund raiser at our former congregation.  I remember being told we had to attend, that it was outlandish when someone suggested tickets be given to the pastor's family, and that this whole thing occurred when the congregation owed the pastor nearly two thousand dollars in back pay and mileage reimbursements.

Toto, we're not in Kansas any more.
Is this heaven?

(I know that this congregation is full of sinners.  Sometimes we bump into each other and grate on each other.  But forgiveness reigns.  And somehow, that actually makes a difference in people's lives and the entire atmosphere around the place.  This is a weird weird congregation, full of laughs and love and kindness.  Once in a while I have to blink back tears.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do You Really BELIEVE It?

I saw a bumper sticker the other day: "You don't have to believe everything you think."


Because of an event earlier that day, I've been pondering that bumper sticker. Throw in the political events of the last week, with the government saying that they're going to force religious organizations to violate their beliefs, and there is yet more to ponder.

On the day-of-the-bumper-sticker, things were slow at work.  In the drive-ups, tellers are allowed to read or do puzzles if and when all the work is done and there are no customers.  My co-worker was finishing The Invisible Wall, a book about the dividing line between Jews and Christians in a British village nearly 100 years ago.  At one point my co-worker gasped.  She was at the point of the story where the Jewish girl had married the Christian boy, and the Jewish family was in mourning.  The newly married couple walked into her parents' home, and it was as if she did not exist.  My friend could not believe the horror of it.  "Can you even imagine this?" she cried.

Not knowing whether the "this" was the mourning or the shunning, I floundered.  "Well, if you really believe what you believe, then I can understand the mourning.  I mean, if you just 'believe' it and don't really believe it, then there would be no mourning over a child who abandons what he's been taught.  After all, it's just opinion to you, just a preference or a ritual, just a tradition from your culture.  But if you truly believe it, then how could a parent NOT mourn when a child gives up the truth?"

She hadn't thought of that.  Then she wondered if Lutherans would shut out a child who left the faith.  I emphatically answered "no" and told her why.  She understood what I said about continuing to be full of love for a person who rejects everything we hold dear, but I'm not sure she understood that there might still be great grief.

Somehow, I don't think that bumper sticker was referring to "I think the living room might look better if the couch were against this wall instead of that one."  Even though I think granola tastes better when I put in black raspberry schnapps instead of vanilla, that's not something I believe.

Do Americans today even recognize "beliefs"?   Liberals are not okay with Christians having those old-fashioned beliefs.  But do liberals recognize that they too have beliefs?  It's just that they [ahem] believe their beliefs (in science or humanism or consumerism or whatever), and take those beliefs for granted, so they don't even exactly see them for what they are.  They just think their way of seeing things is true.  And self-obvious.  And how could anybody ever disagree?

Isn't that what it IS to believe something? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For Thine Is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory

God has spoken once,
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and to You, O Lord, belongs mercy. (Psalm 62)

Suppose the one who is merciful and loving is also the one who has all the power. Suppose the one who is full of gut-wrenching compassion is the one who controls everything in the universe.

If that's the guy who promised to preserve you in the true faith, and if He is the one who has the power, then what can thwart His plan?

"For Thine is the kingdom and the power and glory" isn't just telling me that "our God is an awesome God." Rather, it makes the claim that no power is greater than the power of His will to save me.

The Healing of the Leper

Our story in chapel today was from Mark 1, where Jesus healed the leprous man. Pastor asked the children why Jesus sent the man to the priests to offer the sacrifices commanded in the law. Jesus said, "As a testimony to them." Testimony to what? A testimony that He had not come to set aside the Law. It was not to be abolished. But it was fulfilled in Him.

He also asked the children to tell him when the man was healed, and to be careful to use the words in the text. The first answer was "when Jesus touched him." Not really, though. The text actually says, "As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him." When the little kids found this in their Bibles, they answered, "It was when Jesus SAID."

There's just something that makes your heart bubble with joy, and thankful tears come to your eyes, to hear these little ones speaking out of their utter faith in the words which proceed from Jesus' mouth. What He says surely comes true! And they know it.

Monday, February 13, 2012


After reading Katie's blogpost the other day, extolling how much better she feels when she exercises, I remembered. I remembered what it was like before I started. I remembered what it was like when I had the energy to run two or three or five miles whenever I wanted. I remembered how my stamina waned when I had to stop the jogging. I keep trying to armtwist myself into returning to my exercise regimen, but there's just not the time for it. Today I woke up and figured that 10 minutes was better than nothing. (Right? Isn't it? I'm the queen of "if I can't do it perfectly, why bother doing it at all?" So I am insisting to myself that 10 minutes four or five times a week is better than nothing. I'm not sure I believe it, but it makes logical sense....)

Anyway, in the 60 minutes that passed from the time my little eyelids first fluttered open, I said my prayers, bundled up to go outside, jogged/walked a mile, returned home, showered, and dressed. Not bad. I don't think I can pull it off on days I open at work, but most days, this should be doable. Maggie too got up, exercised, showered, and dressed, all in time to leave for chapel. We both noticed how much quicker our minds woke up today.

Of course, by early evening we were yawning uncontrollably.

We'll work on that.

Meal Plans

~ lasagna
~ Maggie makes hamburgers and frozen veggies
~ beef vegetable barley soup
~ chicken marsala
~ leftovers, and maybe egg-&-ham sandwiches
~ crab and screw noodles*
~ ham & bean soup
~ baked beans
~ baked potato bar

Gee with that line-up, I'm thinking that it would be getting high time for some meat. And the next day is Ash Wednesday. Hmmm.

* Crab and screw noodles is a quick pasta dish. Thaw the fake crab. In one pot, boil up a package of California blend vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower). In another pot, boil up a package of rotini, preferably the multi-colored kind. Drain the water from both pots. Slop a bunch of butter on the noodles so they don't get sticky. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried onion flakes, parsley!, and parmesan. Toss crab and veggies into the buttery spiced-up noodles, and enjoy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Call for Gary

On January 31, the voters of our congregation extended a call to Gary to serve part-time as assistant pastor. This morning, his letter of acceptance was read to the congregation.

Installation is scheduled for early service (7:45) on Sunday, February 26. There's already a dinner scheduled for that day [Goods and Services Auction] so we'll be celebrating his installation while we're bidding on wine bottles and babysitters and bookshelves and pie and stuff.

For those who've asked, yes, Gary will still be working full-time at his day-job. This is part-time, preaching when Pastor is out of town, assisting sometimes with hospital or shut-in visits, and helping out in some other ways on an as-needed basis.

Polished Shoes

After a shoe-shopping ordeal before starting my job, I finally ordered a humongous box of shoes from Zappo's and found a pair that fit, didn't cause too much pain, would accommodate my orthoses, and met the dress-code for the job. I've worn those shoes about 180 times by now.

I finally polished them.

For being boat-sized Mary Janes, they are actually kind of cute. They were charcoal-grey, almost black, but had some pretty little white stitching on them to make them look more charming. I knew they needed to be polished, but how can you blacken and buff your shoes without wiping out that little white accent? (If any of you know how, it's too late for me now, at least with this pair of shoes. But maybe you could tell me for when I have to buy a replacement pair someday.)

Well, at least they're shiny and clean-looking again.
More boring-looking, to be sure. But shiny.