Friday, October 21, 2016


Maggie encountered a virus the first week of school.  She starts to cough, and the coughing causes asthma problems, which results in more coughing, which exacerbates the asthma, and thus goes the cycle.  So she coughed her way through the month, missing most choir practices, a few church services, and several days of school.

Maggie applied for a part-time fast-food job not far from the house.  It seemed that they were interested in finding a spot for her.   Because they had just hired lots of newbies, they said they wanted to hold off for Mag until the end of October.  So she'll need to be getting in contact with them again soon.

Gary and I attended the symposium at the St Louis seminary.  Topic was catechesis, and we at CCA have some familiarity with the subject.  It took a huge amount of work to prepare for the trip.  Deacon had a truck when he went on trips; we have a compact car.  Deacon usually had several tables; we had one 6' table.  Gary wanted a brochure to hand out.  There was a lot of rethinking of how the CCA could be represented.  Then there was the loading, the trip, and the unpacking.  The trip consumed much of my September.

Gary's dad died.  He had been failing slowly over the last year.  But as he quit eating, he became much weaker.  (Or maybe it's the weakness which makes a person quit eating?)  When Gary visited early in September, his dad was already becoming disinterested in this life.  When we visited as we traveled to St Louis, we figured he couldn't continue very long as he was.  He is baptized, and we were thankful that the pastor could be with him as he lay dying.  (Dad's kids were called and told, "Come now," but the distance meant that they didn't make it in time for a final goodbye.)

Most of the grandkids were able to attend the funeral.  There's that weird thing about funerals: in the midst of mourning, there's the joy of family togetherness and fun.

About a week after we returned from the funeral, we headed out for a beautiful drive to Minnesota, enjoying the fall colors.  We attended a most-awesome wedding and saw loads of friends.  And we visited with Paul, Mandy, and baby Henry (who seems to remember me ... and like me ... even though this was only the fifth time I'd seen him).  Paul told us how his new job is going and helped us understand the pattern of his [somewhat odd] work schedule.

The secretary at church is currently out on medical leave.  Several of us are dividing up her responsibilities, taking different days to man the office.  I have bulletin-prep day.  Add to that the other projects (secretarial, CCA, and my usual volunteer tasks) and I've been volunteering at church about 30 hours a week since we returned from St Louis.  No wonder the house is messy, the grass long, and the garage not yet ready for winter.  A few of the big pressing projects are now completed.  So things should be less stressful starting next week.

Maggie and I took one day this week to tackle some projects.  She cleaned bathrooms and living room and washed some windows.  I vacuumed the car, washed all the window-screens, and scrubbed the eaves which were starting to mildew.  Sore muscles the next day.  But boy, it feels good to start catching up on some of those projects that have been delayed since my hospitalization over two years ago.  I have my fingers crossed, hoping we can finish up the most critical pre-winter outdoor jobs this weekend.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Glorious New Hope

Gary bought a new lawnmower last night.  When he told me what he spent, I was aghast.  But he chose it, and that's the way it is. 

I used it today to finish the second half of the lawn that I began mowing yesterday.  It is beautiful.  It is awesome.  I love this machine.  A couple of times while I was out there mowing, a few tears of joy leaked down onto my cheeks.  I am absolutely elated over this lawnmower.  This is so worth the price-tag.

I didn't realize until this afternoon how horribly bumpy our yard is.  Yes, I've known it's not smooth.  But the chipmunks and the sandhill cranes have done quite a number on it this year, and it's wretched.  Pushing a mower up and down the hills in our yard --especially over all the divots and hidey-holes-- takes a huge amount of effort.  This new mower has rear-wheel drive that's variable based on how fast you want to walk.  It is amazing.  I mean, really, it is amazing. 

We have been toying with the idea of moving into a condo in an old-folks' community.  We have considered moving into the village (where the water is nasty and the neighbors are too close) just to have a smaller yard.  We have considered hiring someone to do the mowing for us.  After an hour with the new mower, all those [overwhelming and unwelcome] ideas are out the window.  Even if this mower is cruddy and doesn't last, so that we would have to buy a new one every year, we are still way ahead financially over moving or hiring a lawn service.  And it IS that easy -- the mower pushes itself, and all you have to do is walk along with it.  No man-handling it.  No trudging up hills.  No fighting those blasted holes that the critters made in the yard.

If I can mow the yard in a day by myself and not be completely wasted by it (as opposed to spending ALL my energy for three days every time I mowed), I might have time to do wild and crazy things.  I could work on overseeding parts of the yard.  I could clean house.  I could do more projects at church.  I could tackle the mess in the basement.  I could [gasp] read a story???!

I love this mower.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Seal-Coating a Big Driveway

Wear your old glasses.

Those shoes you were going to throw into the trash?  Set them aside for seal-coating, and then throw them away after the job.  If that's not an option, buy a cheap pair of flipflops or a pair of tennies at a garage sale.

Have a hand scrub (like Mean Green) or a scrub brush in the shower for when you finish the job.
Likewise, make sure Softscrub is on hand because your usual frugal, enviro-friendly cleaners are not going to get the shower clean when you're done.

Don't buy the 8-year blacking.  Buy the 4-year.  It's got some longevity but seems to dry hard in less time.  With the 8-year, the coating was being ripped (still!) three weeks later whenever someone turned their tires.  The container said 24-72 hours without vehicle traffic.  Even with the 4-year, allow at least a week with no parking on the driveway and no changing directions (such as turn-arounds on the parking pad).

Buy extra pairs of cheap work gloves.  Whatever you use for the job will go into the trash afterwards.

When you're blacking, have a bucket of warm soapy water with a couple of rags outside with you.  Also have a couple of large dry rags.  You shouldn't need any of this.  But you know Murphy's Law.  If you don't have something for insta-clean-up, you will splash something somewhere that you regret ... and that you can't fix an hour later.  

So that I remember for next time:
Patch cracks and holes in June.  Fix more holes than you think you need to.  In particular, fix the seam between the driveway and the road.  Give it a month to cure.  
Edge driveway.  Remember that it takes only about 5 days for the grass to grow back from where you edged before it begins sneaking back onto the driveway.
Clean and scrub driveway.  Rinse well.  Let dry.

Temperature requirements make this is a July or August job.  Each time you apply blacking, you need two days without rain.

With a driveway the size of mine -- do NOT follow the instructions that say to do the job all at once, starting at the house and working your way down the drive to the street without stopping.  The reason they advise this is because it's important that the blacking Not Begin To Dry at all before the squeegee comes back with the next stripe.  That's impossible when it's August and there's a section of the asphalt that is 37' wide, especially when you have to stop to open and stir a new bucket.

Next time, the first job will be to do the edges.  I will need a smaller squeegee, maybe 8" or 10".  I will need a pitcher or a bowl to dip from the big bucket -- partly to control splashing, partly to get into the corner by the house, partly to reduce strain from lifting and pouring from such a large bucket.  It would be wise to put paper on the nearby house walls in case of accidents. "Doing the edges" for me means a 12" stripe along all edges of the driveway as well as the corners by the stoop and the walk-through garage door.  There should be a good amount of blacking allowed to spill over the edge of the driveway, so as to seal-coat the side of the asphalt.  After all, the grass and weeds and crumbling attack from the edge, not from the middle.  This needs two days to dry, but it doesn't prevent us from using the driveway.

The next step, if necessary, will be to put down a first coat of blacking on any especially worn areas.  This will require on-street parking and another two days without rain.

Next step is to seal-coat the parking pad.  That will take two days to dry, but the driveway is available for use.

The rest of the driveway can be done in two halves or all at once.  If done in one swoop, have a helper sweep the driveway first, as well as being available to open and stir buckets.  If doing the job alone, blacken half the driveway, leaving enough space for the cars to fit in the driveway overnight.  Then do the second half after the first half has had two days to dry thoroughly.  It's a good idea to use duct tape (as masking tape) to make a straight edge by the garage door and by the street.

My plans that nobody else cares about:
In 2016 I used 7 buckets.  One in spots as a first coat.  One from the garage to the first stripe in the parking pad.  Two more buckets across the drive and parking pad.  One to finish the parking pad and head down the driveway.  One near the plum tree.  One near the road.
Next time I expect to use a bucket to edge, although I probably won't finish the edging.  Then two buckets: blacken the parking pad, finish the edging, and if there's anything left in the bucket, do the section immediately in front of the garage door.  Three buckets won't be quite enough to do the rest of the driveway.  So four buckets will allow for two layers of blacking in some spots.
Also remember to lock up the cats so that we don't increase the number of black paw prints on the floor of the garage and on the deck. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Living on One Income

Some young folks think it's unfair that families need two incomes to get by today.  They point to the 50s and 60s and wonder why it worked for Dad to earn an income and Mom to stay home with the kids.

Government intervention (health care, college, welfare, housing market, Cash for Clunkers, etc) has certainly driven up costs.  But there's also been a change in the standard of living.

What was different 50-60 years ago that costs so much more now?

We have more toys now.  Then you could not watch a movie at home.  Then there were three TV stations (or fewer, depending on where you lived), and no way to record what you missed.   If your family had a television, there was only one.  No computers in the home.  No cell phones.  No answering machines.  No video games.  People had one coat and one dress-up outfit.  Only one or two pair of shoes.  Big events -- such as concerts or plays or major-league ballgames -- were available, but you'd attend only one every year or so. 

Safety and health.  No car seats or bicycle helmets or airbags or anti-lock brakes.  No baby monitors.  No lawsuits if you were injured.  Few people had gym memberships.  Cancer was feared because it not only meant death, but a painful death.  Nursing homes were drab and miserable.  People seemed old at 40 or 50 because they didn't have the therapists and the medications and supplements and the treatments that we have today that keep us well.

Creature comforts.  Furnaces did not work so well.  Windows were cheaper, but let in drafts.  No air conditioning.  If your family had a car, there was only one for the whole family to share.  Houses were smaller, but more people (including multiple generations) lived in the house.  Less traveling (and not by air).  Long-distance calls were expensive, so you didn't often talk to people outside your local area.  Smaller fridge.  No microwave.  No disposable diapers.  Tools required muscle -- no weed-whackers, no power drills, no sanders, no leaf-blowers.

Most stores were closed on Sundays and in the evenings, which helped keep costs down for the store owners.  It also made for less "recreational shopping."

College has become more expensive, but is considered "necessary" for jobs that really should be available to people who don't even have a high-school diploma.

Fifty years ago, a young person could move out on his own without a car and without a TV.  Today the world has changed.  Even for people who live more simply than most, there are still government requirements (such as health insurance and children's car seats) that dig into a family's pocketbook.  Plus if frugal folks want to function in society, there is a need for phones, internet access, car(s), computer, and more.

So why is it so stinkin' hard for families to live on one income now?  Partly because the government has "helped" us.  And partly because we* expect to have so much more.

*And by "we" I mean we as a society.  Even
if a particular person or family has different
values, the societal greed has an impact on all
of us. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Eye Contact

Some people listen better with their eyes closed, shutting out visual distractions to focus on what they hear. Some people are uncomfortable making eye contact because it feels too much like an invasion of their personal space.  Some people who do make eye contact feel compelled to break the eye contact while they're doing some momentary evaluation of what the speaker just said.  None of this is news-worthy, right?

Not long ago I had the opportunity to do some substitute teaching.  Small class size -- not at all like speaking to 200 people at a homeschool convention.  Much more intimate.  I couldn't believe how important it was to me for the students to be looking at me.  When they weren't looking at me, I wondered if they were bored.  I wondered if they'd gotten lost because I'd explained poorly or used a word they didn't know.  I wondered if maybe they were distracted in a good way, like making connections between what I said and something they had read earlier in the day.  I wondered if maybe I did still have their full mental attention, even as their eyes gazed unseeingly out the window.

The experience made me think I should take care to make eye contact nearly constantly with whoever's in front of me.  But I'm one of those people who can't listen critically and thoughtfully if I'm making eye contact.  However, now that I know how much it helps a speaker for her listeners to be watching and not just listening, I should try harder to keep my eyes focused too, at least some of the time.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Decision about Voting

I still don't know who I'll be voting for in November.  But I have decided one thing: I'm not telling anybody.  No matter what choice I make, either
a) I will be ashamed of it, or
b) other people will say that I should be ashamed of it.

I remember my mom telling me not long ago that it's so different now.  Everybody talks openly of their political views.  She said that, in the 60s, you didn't even tell your husband or your parents or your kids how you were voting.  It was private.

So that's my voting decision for this year's presidential election.  It's private.
So don't ask.
And don't make ANY assumptions.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Never Taken Away

Sermon on Wednesday night was about the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10).  Pastor mentioned that many American Christians are afraid these days.  What if our church is taken from us?  What if persecution or martyrdom comes to our country as it has come to other nations?  What if the Church has to hide?  Will we still have God's word in a decade, or even just a few years?

Jesus' promise to Mary and Martha was that Mary had chosen to listen to God's word and "that will not be taken away from her."  This is a promise to us too, who cherish God's word and beg that we not lose His word and Spirit.  How will the Lord preserve His word and ensure that it is not taken from us?  We don't know.  But the promise remains true.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Picking Berries

I approach the berry canes with my empty bowl.  A robin flees.  "Hey, these are MY berries.  Not yours.  Stay away, birdie." 

Twenty minutes of plucking.  Then a squirrel in a nearby tree starts making a racket.  Now, I don't speak fluent Squirrel, but I'm confident that the speech the squirrel was giving me was identical to the earlier speech I was giving the robin.

Tough noogies.  I planted.  I water.  I weed.  (Well, sometimes I weed.)  I nab Japanese beetles to toss to their deaths in my soap-water bucket.  Let the squirrel be angry that I'm harvesting the berries before him. 

Mmmmm, raspberries on my granola.  Mmmmm.

Monday, June 27, 2016

So Many Changes

This early part of summer has brought loads of changes to our family.

In addition to the some out-of-state trips and some local events that take a lot of work, as well as the usual housework and yardwork:

Daughter-in-law Olivia started working at church as part-time secretary for the summer and prepping for her first teaching job in fall. 

Son Andrew began a full-time job at the large teaching hospital in our area.  He's on the post-surgery floor.  He's far enough along in training that this weekend he began his overnight shifts.

Son Paul and daughter-in-law Mandy had baby Henry arrive.  Mandy is currently home with Henry instead of at work. 

Son-in-law Matt is finishing his fellowship at the large teaching hospital and is starting a new job in Illinois.  He and Rachel and Lizzy are moving there this week.

I finally retired-all-the-way from my job at the bank.  I am working on some publishing duties for CCA instead of just my copy-editing.

Maggie is on summer break from her volunteer-job at school, which re-configures our days significantly because I'm not chauffeuring her twice daily.

Gary still has his full-time day-job, but at church he is taking over the position of CCA administrator.
Out of twelve adults, half of us have had job changes this month.

In addition to that, three of our kids have moved out of apartments into houses in the last seven months, and another is looking to move soon. 

No wonder I feel like I can't keep up with what's what.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Saga of the Gottesdienst Plaque

When the plaque was originally made, there were 15 individual name plates.  The last name was added in 2010.  It took me a few years to make plans with the Gottes-editor to rearrange the plaque to fit in more names.  This spring I took it to the guy who makes trophies and plaques, the same guy who'd been doing a perfectly decent job of updating each year's name-plate.

Start: "Do you need this finished this week?"  Oh, no, I answered.  Two weeks is fine.  If you have other, more urgent jobs, that's okay too.  We don't really need it until the beginning of June.  "Okay, I'll have it for you in two weeks then."

Two weeks later -- no phone call.
Another two weeks, I called him to find out if I could pick up the plaque.  No.  It wasn't done.  "Another week," he said.
Two weeks later I called.  Not done.
A week later I called.  Not done.
A week later I called.  Not done, but I could fetch it next Monday.

Part 2:  I picked it up.  Hmmmmmm.

In place of individual names on the original tiny plaques, I had requested five plaques to go on the board, each plaque containing one column of eight names.  What I got back was three wide plaques, two columns on each one, with eight names per column. 

I had requested that the names be printed in lower-case letters with appropriate capitalization at the start of names.  What I got back was all-caps.

I had requested a font-size such that the capital letters be 1/4" tall.  What I got back was lettering 13/32" tall.  (Even though that's only a tiny amount of space, it's more than 60% taller than I requested.)

I had requested a font-style for the names that would match the rest of the lettering on the plaque.  What I got back was a vastly different type-style, as well as the names in bold.  It was as different as This is from This

Oh, and there was a name misspelled.

And one of the plaques was slightly askew.

Part 3:  Pastor took the plaque back and requested that it be fixed.  He didn't ask for everything to be put right.  He just asked for corrections to the misspelling, the font, and the lower-case letters.  And we still need it by June 1.  It wasn't ready by June 1.  It wasn't ready the next week either. 

We finally picked it up less than 48 hours before our symposium began.  Hmmmmm.

Part 4:  The font was smaller -- a nice size.  (Hooray!)  But now there were eleven names per column.  This means the plaques were less than one-third full; it looked very empty.  And it means there's currently room for 45 more years of Sabre bearers' names.  That's a bit excessive at this point.

The previously misspelled name was corrected.  (Hooray!)  But a date was changed from 2012 to 1012.  And "gallantry" was spelled with an S.  And another word was misspelled. 

And the font was still in the unmatched style, and still in bold.

When I called the shop owner, he told me I could bring it back and he would fix it for me by the next day.  We had plenty to do in preparation for symposium and didn't want to take time to run the extra errands.  Besides, based on previous promises of "This is when I'll have it ready," I was skeptical as to whether the repairs would be done.  I told him I would bring it back the next week. 

He questioned the misspellings.  He told me he proofread it three times after I complained about the errors, but he could find no misspellings. 

Part 5:  When I returned the plaques, I told him I wanted the font for the names to match the font on the rest of the plaque.  We weren't going to demand that, but as long as he had to remake the plaque because of the spelling error, we might as well make the font right.  "But then it won't be in bold."  Right!!  I told him we never wanted it in bold.  We had asked for the fonts to match.  He insisted that no one had asked for that.  I did when I first came in.  And it was written down in the instructions I gave him.  Pastor did.  And Pastor saw him jot down a note in response to the oral instructions. 

Then he told me, "If I do this the way you want, it's going to be hard to read.  It won't be bold anymore.  I don't want you looking at it and being unhappy with it, because I am NOT going to change this for you again for free." 

Funny, I never thought that
his fixing his own errors
was the same as
his making a new sign for me for free.

Part 6:  He did the work right away.  It was ready when I arrived to pick it up.  The corrections were made.  (Hooray!)  And the matching, unbolded font looks great.  As I left, he wished me a good summer ... because he didn't want to see me back with any more complaints.  I suppose that was intended to be good-natured and funny.  But it hit my ears as though it were blame, and that he was a pretty good guy for humoring us in our pickiness.

Next year there will be yet another name chosen to bear the Sabre of Boldness.  At that point, I will take the plaque to a different engraver.  I want to start fresh and remake it according to the original plan in March. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

That's Not Permanent

I thought shingles were supposed to last about 15-20 years.  The guys who install metal "permanent" roofs warrant them for 50 years.  That's only two or three times as long as plain old boring shingles.  And you have to assume that the company will still be there in 30 or 40 years if you need something fixed.

When I was a kid, people painted their houses every 15-20 years.  Yes, we had evil lead in our paint.  But it lasted.  I've been hearing a company advertise their "coating" for a home that looks like paint but is permanent.  They promise it will last 25 years.  Twenty-five years doesn't sound very permanent to me.

Why is this short period called "permanent"?

Is it because we have such a mobile society that nobody stays put for 25 years? 
Is it because we like to tinker and update and go for a new look?
Is it because the quality of materials and workmanship has degraded so much that upkeep has become a constant battle, and now we think 25 years is relatively permanent?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Getting Cleansed

Jesus went around getting unclean.  He touched lepers when He healed them.  He touched dead people when He raised them. 

Remember all those rituals in the Old Testament for cleansing and purification?  Remember when Jesus told the ten lepers to go show themselves to the priests?  But Jesus didn't do that Himself.  When He got Himself unclean, He didn't scurry off to the priests and offer the sacrifices to get Himself clean again.

His cleansing was at the cross.
He offered the sacrifices for purification when He sacrificed Himself and shed His blood to remedy all our uncleanness.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Smiling because he's out of the carseat.

Mermaid and her baby.


Tim and Gary

Zoe, Eric, and Alia

Maggie and Olivia
Sitting by the lake.


Andrew and Olivia

Suppertime when there's not enough table-space.

Zoe, Katie, and Matthias


Most of the kids.  In the "office."

Matthias, Philip, Zoe.

Rocks are fun.

Watching the hummingbirds and orioles.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Baby Henry

Rest Day

Today is a day of doing nothing.

Usually I'm not good at that.  Today we're all wiped out enough that we're managing loads of Nothing.

Two weeks ago we enjoyed a week-long family reunion.  It's a lot of work to go away.  But we love seeing the extended family.  And the resort we use is simple, relatively inexpensive, and low-key.  But it's clean, on a lake, with a pool, and awesome hosts/owners.  Weather was perfect.

After re-entry to Real Life and recuperating from our rest [??], we headed off the next weekend to meet baby Henry and rejoice in his baptism-day.  Oh, right, it was nice to see my son and daughter-in-law too.

In the days before and after baptism-weekend, I packed up supplies for the CCA symposium and the CCA sales booth.  (Oh, man, my muscles aren't what they used to be.  I am weak and pokey.  But, hey, it was possible to do the work.)

The last few days involved early mornings and late nights and physical labor.  And lots of time on my feet.  And chances to visit with friends ... though never enough time for all the people I want to see.  The topic for symposium was about keeping our children in the faith, and comfort for us when our loved ones stray.  It was helpful and encouraging.

But today is nothing.  Sudokus.  Lightweight movies.  Sitting around.  I probably should mop and do laundry and start some pickles.  Nothing big.  Just a little catching up.  But if I don't do it, I will still be satisfied.  There are three more big events coming up in the next few weeks, so a day of sloth is probably healthful right now.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Why I Am a Book Hoarder

Well, okay, part of the reason I'm a book hoarder is because of packrat tendencies passed on to me genetically.  And because I always worry about needing it later if I get rid of it now.

But we've done okay at overcoming some of the packrattiness. 

Books, however ....   That's harder.

And Mrs Mussman explains part of the reason why.  The books printed today have an ideological bent.  Libraries are getting rid of old, "irrelevant" stories and replacing them with Brand Spankin' New Books.  And it's not just the in-your-face liberal brainwashing, which may be brash or subtle.  There's also
~ siblings who fight
~ normalization of divorce
~ stories that set up a no-way-but-to-sin situation
~ anti-heroes
~ "inverted" fairy tales (which may be fun for adults but are inappropriate for children).

Some books (like Harry Potter and Little House) aren't going away.  But so many great books from 70 or 80 or 100 years ago need to be cherished in people's homes because they have already been culled from public libraries or will be soon enough.

It's good.

Thursday, June 09, 2016


A sink full of dirty, greasy dish-water.  Bubbles are gone.  I can't wash the dishes in that gross ick.  And when I get fresh hot water, full of bubbly cleanness, it lasts for only a few dishes before it's nasty again.

If this is the content of recurrent nightmares,
I must live a pretty cushy life.

Measuring Coffee

Accurate measurements are important, right?  We're supposed to measure the coffee with a proper tablespoon or teaspoon, right?

One day, they were all dirty.  I grabbed a cereal spoon and used it to measure the coffee grounds. 

I was inexplicably happy about that.

Then I realized: Dad always used the cereal spoon.  He never used measuring spoons for the coffee grounds.  Ever since, I've been using the cereal spoon and feeling warm fuzzies over it. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Temptation of Jesus

1.  Interesting that it was the Holy Spirit who sent Jesus out to be tempted by the devil.  We pray, "Lead us not into temptation."  But the Spirit sent Jesus to be tempted.  That's why we can pray in the Great Litany: "By Your baptism, fasting, and temptation, help us, good Lord."

2.  The devil says, "IF You are the Son of God, ..."  This incident follows immediately on the heels of Jesus' baptism.  And what had the Father declared there?  "This is My beloved Son."  As soon as God declares Jesus to be the Son of God, the devil comes in with "If."  And yet, Jesus doesn't question the Father's declaration.  He holds onto it. 

3.  The devil quotes the psalm where the Lord promises that His angels will guard us and bear us up.  He uses that as the rationale for Jesus to jump off the temple: "See?  They'll protect You."  Of course, Jesus doesn't.  But ain't it nifty to see that, as soon as the devil backs off, the angels do come and minister to Jesus?  Even though the devil twisted and perverted that promise, God still kept His word.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Garden Report

I have such a hard time pruning enough.  This year I whacked and whacked.  And it's a good thing.

The grape vines have more itty-bitty clusters of fruit starting than I've seen in years. 

Today I weeded the strawberry bed.  Because of the weekend's rains, weeds were sliding out of the ground so easy-breezy.  I couldn't stop weeding.  It was almost fun.  Because I pruned away virtually all of the strawberry bed last fall, the plants had enough space to grow nicely.  I picked a quart of strawberries.  Every year it's the same thing: wondering why I bother growing them when it's easy to buy delicious strawberries.  And then I taste one from the garden.  Yowza!  That's why I grow them.

The cilantro (which likes to reseed itself each year and come up as weeds) when nuts last week while I was out of town.  It bolted, but none of it has gone to seed yet.  I'm wondering if it can be saved by chopping it all off to about 4" high.  If not, no biggie. 

The basil plants (purchased and transplanted) had apparently died shortly after being set in the garden.  But I cut off their tops, and they're looking pretty nice now, with new shoots growing.  Maybe the cilantro will behave the same way??

Asparagus bed is weeded too.  So is the tomato patch and rest of the veggie bed. 

Something likes my beet greens.  Something that doesn't seem to want to walk in the garden dirt, but prefers to stand at the edge, nibbling greens.  I think it will be hard for the beets to grow if the root has no top. 

Something is digging in the lawn.  It looks like the problem we had from a skunk once upon a time.  But tonight we saw four squirrels in the yard, and it looked like they were doing some digging.  Rumor has it that the mild winter means there are probably lots of grubs and things in the ground, tasty tidbits for critters who don't give a rip about tearing up some lawn. 

It's been cool.  Lettuce is growing slowly.  It too is being nibbled, but apparently the lettuce isn't as yummy as the beet-tops.  It's cool enough that I'm thinking of putting in another row of lettuce seed.

It must have been warm last week.  The tomatoes grew a lot.  When I was staking them this afternoon, I saw that the gangly one had taken a beating from the wind.  The main stem of the plant is cracked.  That can't be good.  It would let in disease or bugs.  It would reduce the plant's ability to move nutrients and water around the plant.  But I've seen tomato branches that are cracked, and they sometimes manage to live and bear fruit.  So I left it and didn't dig it up.  Maybe there will still be life and healing. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A President's Character -- 8

Sometimes crime victims can avoid becoming a victim.  Recently a kid was shot in our village.  At first it was frightening to think about random shootings happening right here in my neighborhood.  But it wasn't random.  When somebody decides to rip off somebody else in an illegal drug deal, it's no surprise when bullets fly.  But when honest people are minding their own business, not hurting anybody, and they are shot down, it's worse.

Powerful people have the power to destroy others, to ruin those who have done no harm.  If they lack character, there is no reason to refrain from using their power to hurt the little people.  That is why character matters.

A President's Character -- 7

Schools cannot teach everything that a person will need to know.  That's why it's important that students learn to think and to research and to teach themselves.  They need to be able to function on their own in days to come, in matters that are unforeseen.

Same thing regarding whom to vote for.  No one can foresee what kind of terrorist attacks we may face, what kinds of wars will be waged against us, what kind of health epidemics may arise, what kind of environmental disasters may occur.  We must choose leaders who have the character and integrity and wisdom to surround themselves with wise advisors and to choose a safe direction through the troubles. 

No matter how important the issues are, we don't vote for issues (except on referenda).  We don't vote for a platform.  We vote for a person.  And then we must trust that the person will make the right decisions when faced with currently-unknown situations.    That's why character matters.

A President's Character -- 6

I hate it when people lie to me.  If I catch you in a lie, my respect for you goes down.  If I catch you in several lies, I will be suspicious of everything you say for years and years.

I know that nearly all politicians will fudge the truth, not keep all their promises, and do some outright lying.  But lots of them do stay true to a good chunk of what they espouse.  Somebody who runs on an environmental platform may cast some votes that are not what most environmentalists would prefer.  Some anti-abortion congressmen will cast votes that are not fully consistent with pro-life values.  But overall, you know where they stand.

When a person makes a career out of lies and hypocrisy, you don't have any idea what you're voting for.  That's one of the reasons why character matters.

A President's Character -- 5

Government is not the Church.  Government is not supposed to forgive sinners.  Government isn't even supposed to take care of people.  Government has the job of keeping order.  Government's main job is to punish bad guys so that good guys can go about their lives.  There are other things government does, where we all unite to do things bigger than we can do individually: build roads, operate libraries, have a single monetary system.  But these projects can be accomplished without government.  Maintaining order, on the other hand, requires some sort of authority who can punish.

Thing is, though, government's authority comes from the authority of fathers and the authority of God's word.  Even pagan governments, whether we recognize it or not, are wielding the power of God.  When they work opposite of God's law (when they reward the bad guys and punish the good guys) they are, without realizing it, undermining their own authority.  They're shooting themselves in the foot.

That's why we need leaders --regardless of what religion they are-- who will keep the innocent safe from those who would harm them. 

People who are themselves predators are not likely to do a good job of defending the innocent.  Thus, character matters.

A President's Character -- 4

I am under no illusion that presidents, governors, justices, and representatives have been above reproach.  Hardly! 

But there was a day when the big boss of the political "Machine" in a city had to keep up appearances.  There was a day when the philandering politician had to pretend to be happily married, and keep his mistress a secret.  There was a day when embezzlement and fraud were scandalous, instead of evidence of someone being "an astute businessman."

It is bad, but not uncommon, for a politician to live a sinful life behind closed doors.
It is far worse for a politician to celebrate that he takes advantage of people and to advocate for greed.
And it is worse yet when the voters give thumbs-up to this evil worldview.

A President's Character -- 3

But WHY?  Why is morality necessary for freedom?  Maybe morality is necessary in the people, but not necessarily in the elected representatives.  Why is it necessary in politics? 
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate -- look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. (Noah Webster)
Even if we disagree with Noah Webster's comments on scripture and the fear of God, it still stands to reason that those lacking high moral character will have no qualms about fraud and embezzlement.  Their power can be used for selfish purposes rather than for serving the nation.
If the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.  (Noah Webster)
Legislating from the bench.
Bribes and extortion.
People punished for refusing to violate their conscience and God's word.

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsel of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.  (Edmund Burke)

Something must control the sinful inclinations.  If it's not a person's morality, it must be force and power of government.  But if the people in government are immoral, and if they are aiming for immoral principles, then a society continues to collapse.

Quotes found at the website "Quotes on Liberty and Virtue.

A President's Character -- 2

Freedom cannot long exist without morality.

George Washington: Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.

George Washington:  Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.

George Washington: Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.

Benjamin Franklin:  Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.

Montesquieu (quoted by Thomas Jefferson):  When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community.

Alexander Hamilton: The institution of delegated power implies that there is a portion of virtue and honor among mankind which may be a reasonable foundation of confidence.

James Madison: To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without virtue in the people, is a chimerical* idea.

Patrick Henry: Bad men cannot make good citizens.... A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.  No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.

John Adams: Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams: Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.

Samuel Johnson: No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.

Quotes found at the website "Quotes on Liberty and Virtue."

* chimerical = outlandish

A President's Character -- 1

My friend Cheryl wrote an article and spoke on Issues Etc about character.  The first question Todd asked was, "Why do you reject the idea that character no longer matters in our nation's leaders?"

I was stymied by the question.

I listened to Cheryl's response.  I agree with much of what she said, but somehow I didn't find it to be a fully satisfactory answer.  After pondering through some of my chores and projects today, I still do not have a satisfactory answer, but I'm getting closer.

First, though, it should be jaw-dropping to us that we have come to a place where this question even needs to be asked.  If character doesn't matter, then it's okay to have a scoundrel in charge.  Think of that for a minute:  "Shame on you for questioning whether we should put a scoundrel into office.  Why should you be leery of that?!"  Obviously, throughout history, bad dudes have often led countries.  But that might've been due to a coup or because of a king's divine right.  It's usually not because those who were being governed chose to have scoundrels governing them.  We prefer to have honorable men as our leaders.  Duh!

But if we're going to ask questions where the answer should be so obvious that the question shouldn't need to be answered, ... what is the answer?

Quotes from the founding fathers about morality.
Quotes about corrupt leaders.
Bragging about immorality.
Immorality of leaders undermines their own authority.
Voting for a person, not a platform.
A reason to refrain from abusing power.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Living in These Troubled Times

Amy Medina is a missionary in Tanzania.  She writes about how American Christians might need to start living as if they were missionaries.  And she's not talking about speaking the Gospel to those around you.  She's talking about feeling like an outsider, but nevertheless refusing to hole up in our little conclaves.  She's talking about being limited in job options, and expecting that we could quickly lose our possessions.  She's talking about praying for a country and being engaged with the neighbors, while still knowing that nobody cares much about our opinion or rights.

The article is a fresh perspective on how we are pilgrims in this world.  In these turbulent times of post-modernism, her message reminds us of things we know but too often blow past.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Interfering with Faith

The Large Catechism tells us about the Holy Spirit's work: "If the work [of Christ's suffering death, resurrection] remained concealed so that no one knew about it, then it would be useless and lost."

Luke 24: The atonement is not all that's necessary.  It's also necessary that repentance and remission of sins be preached.

The devil tried, but he couldn't keep Jesus from the cross.

So now his only shot at destroying God's work is to interfere with the preaching of repentance and forgiveness

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rebuking Unbelief

Mark's Easter account tells us that Jesus "rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart" when He appeared to the disciples-in-hiding in the upper room that Sunday.

We think rebuke and imagine a scolding, a wagging finger, and a hefty dose of "Shame on you for not believing those who had reported My resurrection!" 

But what do the other gospel accounts tell us?  There is not a shred of scolding anywhere.  The way Jesus "rebuked their unbelief" was to forgive them.  To speak "Peace to you."  To show them that He who had died was now alive.  To expound to them what the Old Testament scriptures had taught of His suffering and atonement.  To restore them to their office of forgiving others.

That is how He rebuked [chased away or beat back] their unbelief.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


"You're not really sorry if you keep on committing the sin."

There is some truth to that.  A nine-yr-old isn't really sorry if he's just saying the words while inwardly plotting a way to keep on whopping his brother as soon as Mom is occupied elsewhere.  The car thief isn't really sorry when he's found guilty before the judge for one theft, while at that very moment his chop-shop is dismantling or disguising another dozen cars. 

But there's the gossip who intends to do better, who desires to do better, but who slips back into her old ways during the course of what started as a normal, pleasant conversation.  Or maybe there's an addict who does what he can to stay clean, but sometimes in weakness succumbs to the addiction.  The devil is quick to accuse: "See?  You're still committing the sin.  You aren't sorry.  That means you are impenitent, and there is no forgiveness for you."

It gets worse when the sin is failing to trust in the Lord with all your heart.  "You aren't trusting in Him?  You still sin?  Obviously you are not repentant.  Because if you were, you'd just knock it off and overflow with abundant trust, never struggling with sin again." 

Repentance means a person is turned from trusting in his own works to relying upon the Lord.

Relying upon the Lord?

For what?

For good behavior?
For strength to stop sinning?
For wisdom and fortitude to do what is right?

Well, yes.  For those things too.

But mostly ...
for relying on His forgiveness. 

If repentance means making sure we Just Stop Sinning Already, then repentance is still about trusting in myself.  And that's really no repentance at all.

Today's Laugh

Santa and his wife weren't getting along.  They went to a marriage counselor but still could not work out their differences.  They decided to divorce.  They discovered --to their amazement-- that divorce is not allowed at the North Pole. 

So instead of a divorce, they got a semicolon.

Because a semicolon separates two independent Clauses.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs

It's like magic!  Alton Brown said to peel the hard-boiled eggs before they cool.  And it works!

With fresh eggs from happy chickens, I found it nearly impossible to deal with hard-boiling eggs.  I tried letting them get old before boiling.  I would add vinegar to the water they're boiling in.  Or add baking soda.  But it was hit-or-miss as to whether the eggs would peel.  And when they would peel, it was a painstaking and time-consuming job.

Obviously, this peel-when-warm plan is useless for Easter eggs.

But for egg salad, deviled eggs, tuna salad, etc, hard-boil the eggs, and then put them in cold water for a few minutes.  Peel them while still slightly warm.  Put the peeled eggs in a closed container and pop 'em in the fridge until you need them. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Worst Cooks in America

The "Survivor" version of cooking lessons.  Gary and I have been enjoying watching Worst Cooks in America.  This is much better than Chopped and even more enjoyable than Iron Chef.  The contestants begin as clueless cooks.  Along they way they are taught and challenged and helped and flummoxed and just keep cookin'.

I thought I was a pretty good cook, but I've learned a few things as I watch.

~ An easier way to cut an onion.  If you halve the onion vertically, peel it, and then begin dicing without going through the root end, the root will help hold the pieces of onion hold together.

~ Frugal Gourmet always said, "Hot pan.  Cold oil.  Food won't stick."  The teacher-chefs on WCiA tell the recruits to make sure the oil is just beginning to smoke before adding the food.  Then you know the oil is good and hot.

~ Chicken and fish go skin-side-down in the skillet or baking dish. Don't try to fudge and fuss with it and loosen the meat to prevent sticking; just wait until it's cooked.  Then move it.

~ Never ever press a spatula on top of a burger.  (That habit is going to be hard to break.)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Liberation Theology Pops Up Again

With the current crop of presidential candidates, American Christians are wondering about voting this November.  Many Christians are saying that disciples of Jesus should be voting for a candidate who will help the poor and homeless, who will fight the injustices of racism and sexism and bigotry.  They quote passage after passage of Jesus' words about oppression and comfort and poverty. 

Hold on a minute, guys.

The problem Jesus came to solve was the problem of sin.

The solution Jesus offers is forgiveness of sin.

When Jesus talks about oppression, He is talking about the church leaders who oppress people with the laws and the rules and the demands for obedience.  The oppression is that we must earn God's favor through our behavior.  When Jesus talks about freedom, He is talking about the gospel of His mercy and forgiveness.

When we make an idol of our worldly goods and worldly comforts, then we think that's the main thing God cares about too.  When we make Avoiding-Suffering our top priority, we think that God is loving if and only if He frees us from temporal suffering. 

To be sure, the Lord does care about the temporal suffering of His creatures.  But sometimes He nevertheless permits it for the sake of faith, that people might call out to Him and rely on Him instead of depending upon themselves.  Christians, too, will care about their neighbors' suffering.  Insofar as they are able, they will offer help and comfort, food and clothing, clean water and mosquito netting, homes and medical care.  They will share the neighbors' burdens.  They will pray and they will give physical relief.

But we cannot eliminate poverty.  (Jesus said that too.) 

The government's place is to maintain order in society, to punish those who take what belongs to others, to take vengeance on those who do bodily harm to others.  It is not the government's job to be merciful, giving to people what they do not deserve.  That is the Church's job.  But what the Church gives is the word of forgiveness for Jesus' sake.  This may offend those who see the Church as a social agency, but it is nonetheless true:  Earthly blessings from Christians to the needy isn't the top priority; those works of mercy are rather an outgrowth of Christian love.

Those who say otherwise,
those who think Jesus is all about providing fairness in creature-comforts to everyone,
are looking for a Bread-King.  (See John 6.)
They are preaching "another Jesus" and "another gospel."  (See 2 Corinthians 11.)

Sunday, May 08, 2016


The last month I've done some things that I hadn't done yet in my post-stroke life.  The garden is tilled and waiting for seeds or seedlings.  The cherry trees and apple trees have been severely pruned and are looking lovely as they flower.  The blackberries and raspberries have been pruned too.  We made a trip to Minnesota to see Paul and Mandy's house and to attend a baby shower. 

One of my projects at church is (I think) completed.  Not to worry, there are plenty of other projects.  The next big project will probably be prepping a manuscript for the publisher, which is easier than decision-making.  (Making decisions is far more tiring and mind-muddling than it used to be.)

It's 74 in the house and I am cold.  Remember how, as a kid, you would go into nursing homes to visit and feel stifled by the heat?  Yeah ... that's the kind of heat I'm craving now.  I was looking forward to swimming at a family reunion this year.  After a couple of nice warm days recently, when I still needed a jacket, I suspect I'll be too chilled to get wet unless it's 100 out.

Garlic is amazing.  After a year and half of living with an infection that I got during my hospital stay, my doctor sent me to a specialist.  I did not appreciate the specialist's advice.  I determined to get serious about using garlic to eliminate the bacteria.  It took over a week.  I ate more than three heads of raw garlic.  I'm sure I reeked.  But the infection cleared up.  Finally.  Four months now and no sign of the problem.  I can now do wild and crazy things: eat a donut, or have a cup of coffee on the same day that I eat a cookie, or go for a walk that's more than a mile long, or have a beer, or drive six hours without taking a month to recuperate.  This is fantastic!

I have continued working on Saturday mornings since I ostensibly quit my part-time job last summer.  I have two Saturdays left before I'm done done.  I have such mixed feelings about leaving.

My mom's house sold the day after it was listed for sale.  I feel like a schlock that I haven't been down there this month to help finish clearing it out.  I keep giving myself the speech that I can only do what I am able to do.  And I'm not very good yet at admitting that I cannot.

Next big job must be to organize the basement.  It's become a dumping spot.  This is going to require some amount of physical labor, but more exhausting is going to be the decisions.  Especially the decisions of what to eliminate.  I had been doing a decent job of submerging my pack-rat tendencies.  But it's become harder lately.  And really, who wants to be organizing the basement when it's spring and I could be outside instead?  (Shhhh -- let's not talk about the fact that I didn't organize the basement in winter because it was too cold down there.  Excuses abound!)

Friday, April 01, 2016

Counting Calories

Counting calories is hard.
Sure, it's manageable IF you're eating food straight out of a box, with a nutrition label that tells you how many calories are in it.  But that's not the best nutrition.  Nor the best taste. 

Daughter1 told Daughter3 about her discovery:  
The website harnesses the power of the internet to do all sorts of figuring for you.  For example, if you type in "banana," it will offer you choices of a small, medium, or large banana (with lengths to help you figure out size), and then it adds in a calorie count.  It has restaurant food in its search engines.  It has brand names, so you can look up Aldi spaghetti sauce or Starkist tuna or King Arthur flour.  

Best of all -- you can add recipes and it will figure that calorie count for you.  One time, Andrew had a project at school to evaluate his diet; it was far too difficult to eat the real food he was accustomed to.  Instead, he spent a few days eating instafood and fast food.  During that project, his goal was that all food come with a label listing the calories, protein, fat, etc.  But with LoseIt, we can record what went into the stirfry or casserole or salad, and the program figures up how many calories there are.  Maggie can also have "recipes" for things she eats regularly (such as the sandwich she frequently takes with her on school days) to simplify even further the record-keeping.

Maggie is motivated to use this.  She finds it easier to avoid the junk food when she knows she'll have to admit it to herself and watch the calories add up on her daily tote board.  She finds that exercise is easier when she enjoys the reward of typing in how far she walked or how many minutes she rode her bike, and sees her day's calorie-budget increase.  She set herself a goal of 2# loss per month, but she's far ahead of that for her first month.  

After a month of using the program, an added [math] bonus is that both Maggie and I are getting much better at estimating weights, volumes, and calorie counts.  

By the way, this program would be way easier with a smart phone, but LoseIt works just fine with a desktop.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Old Navy

I have a pair of jeans.
I would like another pair of jeans.

I am tall.  My legs are so freaky long that it's hard to buy pants.  I haven't had to buy pants for quite a while because I had been wearing dress-up clothes for work and church.  Every few months I've been doing some online shopping, trying to find a pair of jeans. 

Why is it so difficult to find jeans without spandex?!
Why doesn't anybody make plain old sturdy jeans, cotton jeans?
Jeans that you could wear in the garden or in the woods or on a hike?

Because of the ridiculous shoe heights that are popular right now, apparently the jeans are extra long right now.  My daughter told me that Old Navy sells really long jeans.

I hate shopping.
I hate clothes shopping even more than other shopping.
But I bit the bullet and stopped at Old Navy yesterday.

The background music was loud.  It was awful.  It had songs with the f-word.

The store was over-crowded with customers and not enough staff.

The clothing was in disarray.  It took forever to find something to try on: jeans in size 4, size 16, size 12, size 14, and size 8 were all in one stack.  It made me wonder if some trouble-makers had come in and surreptitiously spent hours rearranging the jeans to make all the stacks completely chaotic.

I finally resigned myself to buying jeans with spandex.  When the gal rang up my bill, it came to $31.68.  I didn't have a ten or the correct change, so I handed the clerk $42.  She was confused and handed back $1.  "It's only thirty-ONE sixty-eight."  Right.  I tried to explain about the 68 cents.  She argued with me.  She did not understand.  I finally told her, "Just type $42 into the cash register.  It will tell you how much change I should get, and then maybe you'll understand."  She then figured out the $10-bill easily enough, but she had trouble figuring out how to make the 32 cents. 

Left the store.
Noticed a men's clothing store next door -- a store that specializes in work clothes.
Went in.
Sure enough, they carry a few women's jeans.

Dang it -- they're all spandex too.

Decided to start trying on men's jeans. 
Because men's jeans come in durable COTTON.
Bought a pair.
They will need to have tucks in the waist.  But if that's what it takes to get real jeans instead of silly little fashion jeans, then okay.

Went back to Old Navy to return the spandex jeans.  Stood in a long line for the cash registers again.

Two twenty-something girls were in front of me, killing time on their phones, laughing and joking together while they waited.  One of them came across a video on her phone that she wanted to show her pal.  Held it up between the two of them.  It so happens that everybody in line behind them could see clearly too.  It was a porn video. 

I ought not say I will never set foot in an Old Navy again.  Something may force me to shop there one day.  But right now I can't imagine what level of desperation it would take for me to shop there again.  It was a cruddy two hours.

And some people think shopping is FUN.

Monday, February 22, 2016

From Choir Long Long Ago

I can remember so many songs from high-school choir that I'd rather not remember.  But some of what we sang was fantastic.  Two pieces in particular are songs I occasionally like to pull up on you-tube and play on repeat.  But I can never remember the composers' names to hunt them up.  So for ease of searching next time --

For Good Friday
Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs (by Karl Heinrich Graun)

and connected to Rogate's introit
With a Voice of Singing (by Martin Shaw)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Religious Freedom

Is religious freedom a civil right?

We had a discussion at church tonight.  From one perspective, religious freedom is not a civil right.  It is a God-given right.  We are free.  We are in Christ.  We are live in that freedom of the Gospel, that freedom of the forgiveness of sins, that freedom to speak the truth. 

Of course, that may mean we are also free to suffer on account of the Gospel.  "Blessed are you when men persecute you and revile you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." 

The Constitution's first amendment guarantees suggests that the government not infringe on religious freedom.  That part is a CIVIL right.  A couple of centuries ago, our government wanted to ensure that people would not be persecuted for believing, speaking, and acting upon their religious beliefs.  And ... what the government gives, it can take away. 

So yes, we are free with regard to religion.
But no, we are not free to expect that there will be no suffering and no persecution.

We have been talking frequently about Daniel.  The book of Daniel shows us how believers lived and confessed during times of religious persecution.  The ones who believed in the Lord worked [gasp] for the good [gasp] of the government which was persecuting them.  They did not hide their trust and their prayers; neither did they flaunt it and be "Bible-thumpers."  They did their jobs, went about their business, helped the pagans who had kidnapped them, and then received death sentences for refusing to bow down to idols.  They enjoyed "freedom of religion" in the true sense of the word.  No one could make them deny the Faith.  These folks did not, however, have a civil right to religious liberty.

Can we fix the government so that our civil rights are once again guarantees and not mere wishes?  Maybe.  Probably not.  The problem is not new.  It started a century (or more) ago; the changes have been picking up speed.  Forty or fifty years ago all the problems we see today were already in existence; they had not yet come to fruition; but they had already started.  (This too is not unlike what Daniel experienced.)  I find it very interesting that we see nowhere that Daniel was counting on Cyrus or the work of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Daniel was not agitating for the government to change its policy.  Daniel's hope was in the promises of the Lord, not in fixing things here on earth.