Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nosy Phone Calls

Maggie answers the phone, knows she can't handle whatever-it-is the stranger is saying, and passes the phone off to Mom.  I pick up the receiver and say hello.

"Have I reached you today on a land line or on a cell phone?"

A confused look pops out on my face.  "Why do you want to know?"

"It's the first question on our survey today."

Me: "I won't be answering that question today."

She responded firmly: "Are you on a land line or on a cell phone?  It's the first question I have for you on our survey today about vaccinations in your community."

"I won't be answering that question today."

Caller: "How many children between the ages of 2 and 59 months do you have in your household?"

Me (in partial shock and partial laughter):  "I won't be answering that question today."

Well, I must have sounded more snippy than I intended because her irritated response was, "You don't have to be so hostile about this."

Putting on my best effort at a pleasant voice: "I'm not being hostile.  I'm just telling you that I won't be answering your questions today."

"WHY do you have to be so difficult about this?!  Now, how many children between the ages of ..."

"Excuse me.  I won't be answering your questions today.  I'm going to hang up now.  Buh-bye."


Mnemonic Device for the Gospel Responses

"Praise to You, O Lord"?
"Glory be to Thee, O .... Christ???  Lord???  What IS the word?"

When I was little, I could never keep it straight.  And I've noticed there are lots of people who have the same problem.

The S goes in the same response.  "Praise" goes with "Christ."
Praise be to Thee, O Christ.

The OR goes in the same response.  "Glory" goes with "Lord."
Glory to You, O Lord. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Interior Decorating

I admit it up-front: I don't have a sense for decorating.  I would like a prettier house, but I don't want it enough to figure out what to do and then make it happen.

So on a slow day at work I was flipping through Midwest Living.  I was amazed by some of the nifty, cool, stylish, up-to-date ideas for decorating.  My jaw actually dropped.  And I still can't figure it out.

So it's stylish to have a beat-up old table?  People spend lots of money buying furniture and decorative items that are "distressed." There are methods to paint a decent piece of furniture to make it appear "distressed."   Why can this look fabulous in somebody else's house?  If I had something like that in my house, it would not tout STYLE.  It would look unkempt.

For a delectably romantic table setting, one suggestion was to use a length of burlap as a tablecloth.  Burlap.  As in, the burlap that we used in the 60's to make banners for church.  Or the burlap we would use for sack-races in grade school. 

One magazine article will tell you how a house needs COLOR .  White or eggshell walls?  Out out out.  And yet, another article will extol the virtues of various whites all throughout the house.

One photo display showed an old wooden ladder propped up in a dining room, the rungs serving as a way to display the woman's collection of antique dish towels.  And I'm thinking, "Oh, that I had enough space in the house to even understand how it's possible to have a display like that!"

These homes are put together intentionally and carefully.  People shop and shop and shop for Just The Right Item to fit the theme of the house.


I have books.
And piles of Stuff We're In The Middle Of.
And kiddos' drawings on the refrigerator.
And evidence of projects: a bag of grass seed to plant, a blender and a toaster and a mixer on the counter at all times instead of in an "appliance garage," newspaper on the table, schoolbooks on the coffee table, a sewing project scattered across the basement, etc.

Maybe we could pretend my house was decorated with a theme of Practicality and Self Reliance?  Sure.  That's it.  Totally.  It was all planned!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Surely He Won't Go to Hell? (part 2)

"So my friend is gay.  He's a really nice guy, and he goes to church and reads his Bible and everything.  Surely God won't send him to hell just because he's a homosexual?"


Somebody said this was a hard question to answer.  Doesn't seem hard to me.  The answer is "no."

Do we or do we not believe that the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, forgives the sins of the whole world?

God "sends people to hell" because they refuse to have Him.  He forgives.  He loves.  He reaches out to rescue people.  But some people refuse it. 

It's got nothing to do with "how bad they are" or whether they're pretty good people overall.  

"On my own I am worthy of all sorts of trouble in this life and eventual damnation.  There is nothing nothing nothing I can offer God to make Him like me or approve of me."  "Jesus is my righteousness, my hope, my life, my sanctification, my salvation.  Everything He is, He gives to me, and I am pure and holy in Him."

Heaven or hell?  It's not about the kind of sins or the quantity of sins you commit.  It's about whether you are in Christ.  Repentant faith clings to Him.

That said, it is true that those who are
in Christ will not "continue in sin that
grace may abound."  And God's word
does say something about homosexuality.

Surely He Won't Go to Hell? (part 1)

"So my friend is gay.  He's a really nice guy, and he goes to church and reads his Bible and everything.  Surely God won't send him to hell just because he's a homosexual?"

Forget the friend for a minute.  What does this question show about the one who's asking?

"Just because" he's a homosexual?  "Just because" she sassed her mom and wouldn't pick up her toys when she was a toddler?  "Just because" they committed acts of aggression against Europe and the whole world, resulting in the death of millions of soldiers, and exterminated six million Jews?

Big sins or little sins ... any sin is still sin.  Any imperfection -- no matter how slight -- is Not Being Perfect.  And God requires complete and total and utter perfection for those entering His heaven. 


After several friends suggested "Mirror Mirror" (a Snow White story) we watched it and fell in love with the movie.  Adventure, laughs, and romance.  One of the best we've seen in a long time!  And Maggie and I weren't even watching it with kids.

We also watched "Temple Grandin," a movie about a woman with autism, and how she (and her family) built on her strengths.  She ended up working with butchers and slaughterhouses; it may sound weird when you first hear it, but she cared about making the slaughtering more humane.  I don't know how the story will strike you if you don't know anyone on-the-spectrum, but for me it was an engaging story on so many levels!

Both are good enough to watch again and again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DAILY Bread? Not Monthly? Or Yearly Bread?

Any person who does not know what insecurity is
does not know what faith is.

Wingren, Luther on Vocation, page 36
referring to Luther WA 6, 8

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Please Be Petty About the Pennies

If you're honest, you point out to the clerk* or the bank teller when you've been given too much change.  But some of us don't want to appear greedy by complaining if we were shorted a dime or a dollar.   Go ahead -- be "greedy" about such things: the bank tellers will be appreciative that you helped them avoid the mistake which would have their drawer out-of-balance at the end of the day.

Footnote: I doubt it is as strict for clerks as it is for bank tellers.  When I worked in stores or restaurants, it wasn't exactly okay but wasn't a humongous deal if your cash register was off by a quarter or a dollar.

More Wedding Pictures

More pictures are available at the photographer's Facebook page.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Symposium last week.  Lots of friends.  Some fun house guests.  Parties.  Theology lectures.  Good times!

Work.  Boy, the job sure gets in the way of my to-do list.

Washing the eaves.  Seems dumb.  But, hey, during winter's roof-raking I noticed spots that could've been dirt or could've been mildew on the eaves.  After living in the parsonage, I passionately hate mildew.  Kids washed half the eaves one week and I finished the other half this week with a bleach/soap solution. 

Grass seed scattered and being watered daily in one portion of the lawn burned in last summer's drought.  (Funny.  Last year "they" kept telling us that the grass would survive just fine.  Don't water it.  It will be fine.  Don't waste water on the lawn.  This spring, the landscapers were all offering to fix lawns which obviously need fixing.  If the government propagandizes about something piddly like lawn-watering, why should we believe what "they" say about anything else?)

The lettuces are finally coming up.  So are the turnips, beets, basil, zucchini, cucumber, and cilantro.  Memo to self: forget the seed-saving.  The germination rate is awful.  Short of catastrophe, just buy the seeds new each year.

Fewer strawberry plants + fewer rows = bigger berries.  Nice.   Clusters on the grape vines look great at this early stage.  Blackberries have been pruned, but still need more whacking back.  One cherry tree looks to be nearly ready for a nice harvest.

Loads of weeding to do. Katie and Maggie have helped a lot.   I need mulch.  Tons of mulch.  The strawberry bed this year (with the between-spaces covered with a few layers of newspaper and many inches autumn leaves) has been quite easy to weed.  I want everything else covered in that much mulch.  But mulch is heavy.  We can go at it slowly, though, with free wood chips and free compost from the town's compost site.  The mulching may be a huge amount of work, but the weeding is its own frustration, especially in the front where the flowers are, where the previous owners put layers of gravel which is now under a bit of soil.  It just plain needs to be fixed!

Pretty boring, huh?  That's the way we like it!

Two Kingdoms

There is a spiritual kingdom "through the word and without the sword, through which men might become devout and righteous, so that along with this righteousness they might receive eternal life."  The earthly kingdom, which is administered by the sword (that is, with punishments), exists "in order that they who refuse to be made devout and righteous unto life eternal shall by such earthly government be compelled to be devout and righteous before the world....  Though [God] does not reward this righteousness with life eternal, He nevertheless insists on it, in order that peace may be maintained among men; and He does reward it with temporal gifts."

Luther, WA 19, 629
in Wingren's Luther on Vocation, page 24

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wedding Pictures -- the cute little girls

When the bubble-passer-outers ran out of bubbles, they began gathering petals that the flower girls had dropped during the processional.


Zoe and her bubble-basket

Waiting patiently during picture-time.