Saturday, September 14, 2013


Earlier this summer, we had to change filters on the Culligan water filters.  But after the maintenance, something went wrong.  The line keeps clogging.  We fix it.  The water works for a couple of days.  Then it clogs again.  Right now, we're buying water in town about 5 times a week.

Earlier this summer, I fixed the dryer.  Since then, the machine runs fine, but the exhaust vent keeps detaching from the exhaust hole through the window.  I keep fixing it. 

Last year, after I fixed the old [smaller] refrigerator, the temperature problem returned.  We struggled with puddles of water in the refrigerator for months until I finally fixed it a few weeks ago.  Well, at least, I think I fixed it.  Problems seem to recur around here recently.  I still hold out hope that the fridge is fixed-fixed.

Over the last couple of weeks, my computer has been misbehaving.  So my job-of-the-week has been to carefully transfer files and back up everything, with the plan of wiping the computer clean and reinstalling everything.  That scares me.  But it needs to be fixed.

At my doctor's appointment this week, he diagnosed what's wrong with my wrists.  It's not carpal tunnel after all.  It's arthritis, especially at the base of my thumbs.  That explains the brokenness in my hands.  There's really no good solution for it.  But at least I know what it is and what some of the options are.

All the neighbors have lawn tractors.  We have two push mowers.  The older one died (beyond resuscitation) today.

I'm beginning to think it's time to give up on gardening.  I love the fresh produce.  But the work required doesn't seem to mesh with that whole arthritis-thing.  Or maybe I'm just a wuss.

If you will excuse me, I'm headed back to my Project List Of Repairs.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Maybe He WAS Making Sense After All

The other day at work, the customer said something so confusing.

We turned on the microphones and said hello.  He didn't respond.  Fine -- he was rummaging around looking for whatever paperwork he needed to conduct business through the drive-up.  Since he had nothing to say, we turned off the mic. 

After a bit, I noticed that he was facing the tube through which we send paperwork back and forth from the employees to the customers.  I guessed that he was talking to us.  My partner turned on the mic and said, "Yes?" 

The man responded, "Thank you," and sent the tube to us. It arrived empty.  Odd.

"Thank you?  What kind of response is that??" my partner wondered.

So I explained to the customer that the mics were off and asked him to please repeat what he'd said a moment earlier.  He had asked, "May I please have a pen?"  When my partner said, "Yes," he thought she was answering him, and he responded with a polite "thank you."

I laughed with delight over the way the miscommunication came out on both ends.  When all the pieces were put together, it made perfect sense.  But hearing only one end or the other -- weirdo indeed.

So why are we prone to be irritated when somebody does something like that?  When the clerk is crabby, but you don't know how she was reamed out three customers ago?  When a driver does something dumb on the highway, but maybe he's just learning to drive?  When a friend seems to make no sense?  So often, we're just missing a piece here, or misheard a word there.  A little forbearance and a little clarification goes a long way.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Handwriting on the Wall

And you, being dead in your trespasses
and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
He has made alive together with Him,
having forgiven you all trespasses,
having wiped out the handwriting of requirements 
that was against us,
which was contrary to us.
And He has taken it out of the way,
and nailed it to the cross.  (Colossians 2)

Remember Belshazzar (Nebuchanezzar's son)?  Big ol' party.  Lots of drinking.  Lots of worshiping idols.  A hand that appeared out of nowhere and started writing something on the wall.  People freaking out.  (You would too, if a bodiless hand appeared and started graffiti-ing up your wall.)  "Hey, remember Daniel?  Let's get him here.  He's really wise."

And what had the hand written?  "You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting" (Daniel 5).

A long time ago, in a galaxy state far far away, there was no midweek Bible study at our church.  The men had 9-to-5 jobs.  The women were stay-at-home moms, and many of them were involved in Explorers, a humongous, city-wide, non-denom Bible study.  They finally talked me into going, due in part to my desire for a preschool-like experience for my eldest kid.  Oh my goodness -- I'd never heard of so many rules for attending Bible class!

I broke rules on my very first day.  Explorers begins with opening worship, followed by small-group discussion of the previous week's lesson, and then everybody gathers again for what is essentially preaching on the week's passages.  You are not allowed to talk in the small-group discussion if you have not completed your at-home study of the passages and written your answers to the homework.  My first week?  I obviously hadn't done homework.  And I dared to talk.  Can you believe it?

(The ladies in my class were thankful.  They were confused by how often the Old Testament talked about "So-and-so, son of So-and-so, son of So-and-so."  I knew the explanation and told them the brief history tidbit.  And everybody was happy.  Until a couple of women from my church found out later that I'd broken the No-Speaking rule.  They were not happy.  Apparently, our small group gained a naughty reputation with the leadership for speaking too much and too candidly with each other.)

Over the weeks and months I attended Explorers, I grew to love the women in my small group.  Most of them were Baptist.  (In the South, "non-denom" has a decidedly Baptist feel to it!)  These women were burdened by the law.  They wanted to be good Christian women.  They desired the Lord and yearned for Him, but they were constantly being beaten up by the law.  They did not know Him to be a God of grace, but a god of rules and commands and laws and requirements.

Oh, another of the rules for Explorers small-group is "no denomination-specific discussion."  Everything has to be non-denom.  Uh.  Yeah.  I guess I broke that rule too.  I did manage (most of the time) to hold it in with regard to the sacraments and the office of the ministry and other Lutheran views.  But the gospel?  I had to speak the gospel.  How could I not?  And after all, supposedly all Christians believe the Gospel, right?  We're readin' the Bible here, folks!  How could we keep mum about the mercy of the Lord in Christ Jesus??

So when those dear women fretted that God would zot them for their inability to live as they ought, I talked about Jesus and His cross and the forgiveness of sins.  A few bristled.  Many sighed with relief.  Several hugged me and thanked me. 

Near the end of the year came the story of Daniel and the handwriting on the wall.  "You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting."

Oh, the outpouring of words that day.  The baring of hearts.  The fear.  So much fear.  "I'm not good enough."  "I am going to be found wanting.  I deserve to be destroyed."

Is there any greater joy than to be able to speak to a sinner: "But Jesus was the One put in the balance.  He took your sin.  He was 'found wanting.'  But His blood forgives your sin.  His righteousness is your own.  When God weighs you in the balance, all He finds is holiness and perfection.  No, it's not your own, that you earned.  But it is yours, because your Jesus gives it to you in His mercy and love."  And the person argues with you: "No, it just can't be.   You don't understand.  You don't know what kind of secret sins I have.  You don't know my heart's doubts."  And you get to "argue" back with them, "No, really.  He forgave all your trespasses.  He has wiped out the handwriting of requirements."

Sometimes it's really cool to be with people who aren't Lutheran, people who are tickled pink when they hear the gospel in all its fresh comfort.

Given the age of most of the women, and given how long ago this happened, many of the dear saints in my small group are probably already in heaven.  Someday I'll see them again.  And hug them.  And talking to them, my hidden Southern drawl will creep back into my usually-Northern voice. 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Today's Thought

When you are dead,
you don't know you are dead.
It is difficult only for the others.

It is the same when you are stupid.

stolen from Jane's Facebook

Prayer Chains

Elijah heckled the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19): Your gods are asleep.  Or on vacation.  They can't heeeeear you.  Better speak up.

That's how we often treat prayer chains.  God doesn't know what's going on, so we need to tell Him.  Or God doesn't care very much, so we will arm-twist Him into doing what we demand.  Doesn't "storm the gates of heaven" sound a little like the storming of the Bastille -- crowds overpowering an enemy?

When we join in prayer (at the altar or via prayer chains), the point is not to make God do what we want.  In times of national disaster, or at times of cancer diagnoses, or when there's been a nasty accident, we pray for the sake of faith.   We pray that none of us would be scandalized in the Faith because of the circumstances of our own lives: "If this is happening to me, surely God has abandoned me."  We pray likewise that none of us is scandalized by the tragedies of our brothers and sisters: "What kind of a God allows this to happen?"

We pray that we trust the Lord.
We pray that suffering does not turn us from Him.
We pray that He uses events (good or bad) to draw us closer to Him.

Oh, yeah -- and we also pray that temporal suffering be alleviated if it be His will.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

"Drain the Fat"

Those recipes are always telling you to brown the meat and then to drain the fat.  For years I was a good girl; I followed the directions.

Then butter grew more expensive.
It bugged me: I would drain the fat off the hamburger, and then I would add olive oil or butter or whatever to the recipe.  Why?  I began to use the grease from the hamburger as the fat in the recipe.

I understand that, for many years, it was popular to decry saturated fats.  "Drain the fat from the sausage?  Oh yes, then use margarine in the recipe."  "Throw out the hamburger grease, and then put Crisco in the skillet to saute the veggies for your casserole."  Science is beginning to catch up to my mantra of: "The fat God made must be healthier than the fat the chemists invented, regardless of what current scientific studies conclude."

But how do we explain decades-old recipes that said to "drain the fat" -- recipes before Hate-Saturated-Fats became trendy?

In one of our food-history books, I came across information about rations and scrimping during WWII.  According to this book, "drain the fat" (and donate it for needs pertinent to the war effort) was a patriotic thing to do.  Keeping your bacon grease or your hamburger fat to use for your own family's needs?  Selfish! 

Ah ha!  That may be part of the answer to The Great Drain-the-Fat Mystery!