Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Who's Teaching Whom?

Maggie, my five year old, takes a P.E. class at Taylor University. It really is a wonderful thing. They need to give their teachers lab experience in teaching P.E. to kids, and P.E. is probably one of those most neglected areas in homeschooling -- so voila...they offer the class for free to homeschoolers every Spring.

I take the opportunity during the class to spend some rare alone time with me and Chris, and this week we ran off to Fresh Market. I'm not even going to go into the situation that came up (I've blocked it out because of frustration levels), but I was fifteen minutes late in picking up Maggie.

When I came into the gym, a few of the P.E. student teachers and their prof were gathered around my daughter, who was hula-hooping, quite adeptly. The guy teacher she has would make an attempt and the hula hoop would fall to the floor. "No, you've gotta move this way." Maggie was saying as she ground her hips in a circle as adeptly as Shakira ever could, causing a couple of the other girls to laugh about how perfectly she did it (one of those things she picked up in Vacation Bible School, doncha know).

As we were walking out to the car, I asked "so, you were showing your teacher how to hula hoop?" To which she emphatically replied " Well, I was TRYING to, but he just couldn't get it."

Deja Vu All Over Again

After lessons today, my 11 year old son was looking through the issue of Boy's Life which arrived earlier.

"Hey mom, listen to this!" he said excitedly. "At Rockies' Stadium in Denver (aka Coors Field), because it is so high, they have a row of purple seats near the top that marks the one mile altitude mark. That's pretty cool"

He looked up at me. I stared bemusedly at him. "What?" he asked after a minute.

I was so bemused because he HAD been there, and we dragged him (not literally) kicking and screaming right up to that row and made him grimace for a picture, as we were driving on our way to move here.

Well, at least now that he thinks it is cool, he can say that he's done it.

(another point to remember you exuberant moms of young ones who don't want their kids to miss anything...if it is before they are ten, they are just as likely to forget it as to remember it...and if they are male, probably more likely. My kids have forgotten more 'special experiences' than you could ever fathom)

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Sorry, I'm Neglecting You

I really do want to respond to what has been said in the last discussion, but there really are a few things that I want to focus on. Besides homeschooling my kids and doing a mediocre job of keeping a home, I also work as a field interviewer, conducting social science research studies for a big time university that always raises eyebrows when I say the name...(LOL).

This current project has been particularly demanding of my time (not really more time, but it is specific as to when I am supposed to be working, so the relative inflexibility of it kind of drives me crazy.) This is the last week of the project, and I am grateful, as it is obnoxiously getting in the way of my blogging :P So be patient with me this week. I WILL get back on track next week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tell Me What You Think?

I came across this from a sermon. Let me know what you think of the theology in it and maybe what tradition it might be from. I am having a hard time telling. I am only doing segments, without trying to cut out anything important or change the meaning, because it is so LONG.

Therefore, when we have received the Lord's Supper, we must not allow ourselves toi become indolent, but must be diligent and attentive to increase in love, aid our neighbor in distress, and lend him a helping hand when he suffers affliction and requires assistance. When you fail to do this you are not a Christian, or only a weak Christian, though you boast of having received the Lord and all that he is, in the Lord's Supper.

If, however, you would be sure of partaking profitably of the Lord's Supper, there is no better way than to observe your conduct toward y our neighbor. You need not reflect on the great devoutness you experienced, or on the sweetness of the words in your heart. These indeed are good thoughts, but they will not give you assurance, they may deceive you. However, you will be sure as to whether the sacrament is efficacious in your heart, if you watch your conduct toward your neighbor. If you discover that the words and the symbol soften and move you to be friendly to your enemy, to take na interst in your neighbor's welfare, and to help him bear his suffering and affliction, then it is well.

On the other hand, if you do not find it so, you continue uncertain even if you were to commune a hundred times a day with devotions so great as to move you to tears for very joy; for wonderful devotions like this, very sweet to experience, yet as dangerous as sweet, amount to nothing before God. Therefore, we must above all be certain for ourselves, as Peter writes in 2 Pet. I, 10, "Give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure." The Word and the sacrament are indeed certain in themselves; for God himself, together with all the angels and saints, testify to this; the question is in regard to yourself whether you furnish the same testimony. Therefore, even if all the angels and the whole world were to testify that you had received the Lord's Supper profitably, it would be weaker testimony than that furnished by yourself. This you cannot reach unless you consider your conduct, whether it shines forth, works in you, and bears fruit.....

then there is a part about how if we do not find this in ourselves, we should go to God and confess that though we know it is in the Lord's Supper, it has not been realized in our own hearts and pray for it to be so.... I'm going to move ahead to the last two paragraphs.

Let me say now in conclusion in regard to the Lord's Supper that when we have received it we ought to give heed to love, and in this way assure ourselves that we have received the sacrament profitably, and at the same time furnish evidence to others; so that we may not always come and still continue unchanged. Therefore, as I said, we must turn from our devotions and thoughts to our conduct toward our neighbor, and examine ourselves in this mirror with all seriousness. The sacreament is to act upon us so that we may be transformed and become different people. For God's owrd and work do not intend to be idle, but are bound to produce great things, to wit, set us free from sin, death, and the devil, and every kind of fear, and make us servants even of the least men on earth, and this without the slightest complaing on our part, rejoicing rather to find someone in need of our help, and fearing only lest after receiving so much, we may not apply it all.

Whenever the Lord's Supper fails to produce this result there is reason to fear it has wrought injury. Nevertheless, even if the result is not great, we are not to reject those that are imperfect and weak, but those athat are indolent and insolent, who imagine they have done enough when they have partaken of the sacrament. A change must take place in you, and there must be evidence of it, then you will be able to perceive through the symbol that God is with you, and your faith will grow sure and strong. For you can easily feel whether you have grown more joyous and bold than you were before. Formerly the world seemed to narrow for us when we heard of death and thought of sin. If now we feel different it is not because of our own strength, for in the past we could not get so far, althorugh we put forth greater exertions and endeavored to help ouselves by means of works. Likewise, you can feel whether you are kind to him who injured you, and whether you are merciful to him who is sick. Thus you can discover, whether the Lord's Supper is producing any fruit through your own life. If you experience nothing, go to God and tell him of your shortcomings and troubles; we mall must do the same thing as long as we live, for as we have said, not one of us is perfect. For the present let this suffice on this subject.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the Name of Freedom

Pastor Esget posted this today:

"When people in the name of revival take up arms against the order of worship itself, they are violating the Christian fellowship. Often this is done in the name of liberty. But the freedom that is desired will mean a lack of freedom for the greater number of people. It will mean that certain pet interests shall characterize that which should be the common possession of all. One demands the right to celebrate worship according to one's own pattern. Denied this, one does not feel at home and may leave the fellowship. It is just here that the un-Christian character of this attitude is seen, and it is here that every churchly movement must stand the test. When revival piety in the church is unwilling to live in the framework of the liturgy in the common service of worship, it has placed itself outside the fellowship of the church and can no longer be counted as a living movement of the church of Christ.

-Bo Giertz, from "Liturgy and Spiritual Awakening"


When my husband was still in seminary, he spent three months working with IELC pastors in India. One of those pastors eventually moved his family to the United States and works as a chaplain at a hospital to support them.

He received an invitation that the pastor was going to be installed as a missionary to the Indians in a reasonably big city in the area. This pastor had said he really wanted my husband to be there. My husband really wanted to be there. This man means a lot to him.

We went down on the appointed day and Jeff vested and sat with the other pastors, as is normal. Also showing up were a few of the other chaplains from the hospital. The service was what they call blended. It followed a basic liturgical order but to modern music, and just about every component lacked the meaning that would've been in its hymnal counterpart. I felt out of my element, I felt like I had been deprived of part of the gospel message that is usually there for me.

But when the pastors were to go down and bless my husband's friend, the presiding pastor of the congregation that was installing him invited the hospital chaplains up as well. A woman, a Baptist, and I am afraid I don't know the background of the third.

The point of the blessing is that the pastors are affirming that they are one in doctrine and practice with this man, and promising to support him in his role serving the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. My husband's friend did not want the chaplains up there, but did not have the freedom at the moment to speak out against it. He shouldn't have been the one who had to. The Senior Pastor should've known better. My husband's friend should've been protected from that. He had already told the woman, who was United Methodist, when she came with her vestments and ready to process in with the pastors, that she was not welcome to participate in that as it was against our theology. He had already been called on to police the situation that day, on a day that was very important to him.

My husband, when this happened, as discreetly as possible for the sake of his friend, turned away from the gathered pastors and walked up the side aisle and out of the sanctuary. He would not pretend to be in fellowship with that. He politely explained to the elder that came to make sure he was not sick, and he as politely as possible explained to his friend and to the pastor who presided over the installation why he could not be one with that. The friend understood, the senior pastor only saw that what could've been done better is that my husband could've been informed that he planned on doing that.

The pastor had taken a rite which has a specific theological meaning and tweeked it so that it could be personal and warm, and be about all of those who mattered to our friend....without that friend's permission.

My husband was kept from his freedom (and his duty) that day, to be up there and to perform his role as pastor, friend, and colleague to the missionary---all in the name of the individual freedom of that congregation to make worship what they wanted it to be, rather than what we are supposed to be united in. My freedom was hindered because I could not worship in comfort and familiarity but had to constantly wonder what was coming next. Many in the Missouri Synod's freedoms are hindered in this way because instead of seeing the LCMS on a church sign and knowing that it is supposed to mean that the congregation bearing that sign should be teaching the same things and worshiping in the same manner as the last congregation that they were in...instead Lutherans have to church shop as if they were non-denominational, until they hopefully find a church where they are "comfortable," and even then, a year down the road they can be surprised by a pastor's new plans, or find out that the church teaches something they are not in agreement with.

We had a good lunch with our friend and many of the people that he is pastor to in his missionary ministry from the Indian community. However, it was flanked by doubt as to what was really understood, a fear that he had offended us and likewise (something that is a big deal in Indian culture), all over something that there was protection against in place, had the senior pastor of that church saw it as his duty to follow the prescribed rite, rather than re-inventing it and tweeking it to make it all more personal.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Homeschooling and Idealism

A few years ago, I remember some people talking about how they wouldn't get their kids lessons for certain things because they are homeschooling and it is THEIR job to teach their kids. Even back in my most idealistic days, I don't think I could completely nod in agreement. And I would definitely have to say there are things that I cannot teach my kids as well as someone else.

Arts and crafts come to mind as one thing. My housekeeping abilities are so limited that the idea of adding glue, glitter, and paper scraps to the mass of dust, food, and animal hair just simply overwhelm me.

We have a woman in our congregation who teaches piano to my son and to another homeschooler. She has skill, ability, and understanding that I don't. And not only that, he benefits greatly from having a relationship from this truly wonderful woman. He respects her, and she understands him. He practices because she feeds his love for music. And one joy from that, too...I stay completely out of it. If he doesn't practice, he can deal with her, and he won't know his songs so he doesn't move forward. I don't even go to the lessons. I reap the rewards of it though; music fills my house, and I have the joy of knowing this is one thing that is not on my shoulders (which is probably why he loves it).

But there are simply some things that kids will do better for other people. I remember I used to love to clean my brother's room (as a surprise) because I felt like I was helping him. I HATED cleaning mine. My son helps an elderly woman in our congregation with chores occasionally. He does things for her that I have to pull teeth to get him to do.

Swimming is another thing. I have been amazed at the skill of people who teach kids to swim. I loved the young woman we had last year. My son would become convinced that he had to kick with his knees bent or he didn't feel like he was going anywhere. "I need you to straighten out your legs" she would say. Then Chris would go into his rationale. She would nod and listen and then say "Uh-huh, okay...but I need you to straighten your legs," all with this syrupy sweet tone in her voice. I would've been tearing my hair out. However, I was gratified that at least he did TRY to give her the arguments that he usually is giving me....

Scouts and sports have also been things that amaze me in what they can get out of my kid....my comfort-loving, pain-despising kid. Just today, he was going around complaining about his knee (most of the day) and then he decides to go running in his cleats and when he comes back, I asked about his knee "Oh, I stretched it out, its fine." Then he went off to practice where they had sliding and pick-off practice.

(okay, I am a huge baseball fan, but you would HAVE to pay me millions of dollars to convince me to throw my body on the ground for a little white ball. My brain doesn't say "this game is on the line," "I gotta make this play," etc. My brain says "Its a ball. It doesn't feel pain...I do.")

The kid who complains if I lower the thermostat by one degree has spent nights out in the woods sleeping with twigs digging into his back, rain pouring outside, and the temperature above or below freezing...and come back saying "my sleeping bag could've been warmer, but I had a blast." And in the midst of a deluge, his scoutleader has taught them to whittle, build survival shelters, and cook all three meals every day. Would've never done it for me -- or even for his dad. (and lest you think I am berating him for being a wimp...I am EVERY bit and more the wimp that he is)

Through the commitments that have been made to neighbors, piano teachers, choir, Scout troop, church, and other things...my son has also learned duty, obligation, and responsibility-- and he enjoys the feeling of competency and respect that this gives him. I can't imagine the idea of training him to be a man in a vacuum separated from the world. It just wouldn't work. And I look forward to watching my daughter learn these same lessons through her journey as well.

So while homeschooling is awesome, and while over the course of years I have taught many useful things, enjoyable and unenjoyable, I continually realize that there are things that I can't teach my kids, that I don't want to teach my kids, or that my kids won't learn from me. And you know what....I'm just fine with that.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I think this is the coolest....

My son took the Muppet Personality Test and he came up with this!!

You Are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

You take the title "mad scientist" to the extreme -with very scary things coming out of your lab.

And you've invented some pretty cool things, from a banana sharpener to a robot politician.

But while you're busy turning gold into cottage cheese, you need to watch out for poor little Beaker!

"Oh, that's very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute."

Now me, I'm Rowlf the Dog.....and I wouldn't have it any other way...

You Are Rowlf the Dog

Mellow and serious, you enjoy time alone cultivating your talents.

You're a cool dog, and you always present a relaxed vibe.

A talented pianist, you can play almost anything - especially songs by Beethoven.

"My bark is worse than my bite, and my piano playing beats 'em both."

Coming Alive

It was 69 degrees today, and completely beautiful. I actually got my hands in the dirt for a few minutes. Chris asked to do something with me, and I said we could start on the flower beds out front, and so we got maybe 3 square feet of it weeded. I am starting to feel alive!

I am finally getting to the point where I can actually -garden-. When I had a toddler/preschooler, it was difficult. I also didn't want to. I grew up in the desert, and where we lived in California, I didn't have much space to do anything. Also, things didn't really die for the Winter. Bulbs didn't go away, they just didn't bloom. Plants known most places as house plants (like jade plants and spider plants) grew outside. Did you know that both bloom?

But here.....everything dies, and then as the snow melts away, little specks of green start pushing their way through the ground and I am paralyzed by curiosity to see what it will be. But after four years, I know where the hostas are, and I know where the daffodils are....and I know that I don't want quite that many day lilies. And I know what I want my vegetable garden to look like, and while I may not exactly know what I want the beds around the house to grow...I at least know my curiosity is satiated, and I've had quite enough queen anne's lace going to seed, and those interesting things that are winding their way up to the sky grow big thistles with thorns.... :)

Happy Spring everyone!!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A World Unto Myself

By the way, I know that the links are gone, and they will be back. I saved my original template as a Word document, and when I went to open it...it was gone. So I have to do it manually.

(Blogging Chicks will probably not be back, since that is the one that I think makes my page take FOREVER to load up. It freezes my for two minutes every time I get on my page. If it annoys me, it has to annoy you, who isn't even benefitting from the blatant self promotion. I didn't want to be a "Large Mammal in the TTLB ecosystem anyway. I'd rather be a Cuddly Koala or something like that. What woman wants to be called a Large Mammal? PLEASE. I just happened to overshoot my mark when I was looking to "evolve" a bit.)

I also have not decided what to do about the listing of Lutheran blogs. I like it, and I am gratified by the fact that I am on the list and so many people therefore post my blog on their blogs because of their loyalty to the Lutheran Blogosphere. But it is long...and I am concerned about that.

But anyway, be patient with me. I am not thinking that I am alone here in this vast cyber space...I'm just figuring out what to do.

Sometimes a Simple Cartoon Says it Best

(just click on the post title)

Hu's On First?

It is SO nice to be able to sit and watch baseball again. I've missed my Dodgers so much, and it is so awesome to see them fight so hard against the evil Giants...It even made me happier to sit there and watch the game while I wallowed in my flu-imposed misery.

We have a new middle-infielder this year...he's mostly off the bench, but he's from Taiwan and his name is Chin-lung Hu. Unfortunately, he struck out last night, but how much do you want to bet that the guys at ESPN are eagerly waiting for him to get a hit so that they can make the "Hu's on first!!" call on Sportscenter. I can't wait. If I were manager, I'd have put him on the roster just to be able to say that!

And Joe Torre looks infinitely better in Dodger Blue. I'm so excited for this season!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Synodical President Cornelius Fudge

President Kieschnick, the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, issued a response yesterday to the article that M.Z. Hemingway wrote in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, he wrote:

In truth, last summer the LCMS had its most positive and unified convention in years. Our church remains faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, an integral part of our identity as a church body. As stated in a resolution adopted last summer by the national Synod convention: “From the founding of our Synod 160 years ago, we have been blessed by unity in our common confession and the articles of our shared faith, such as the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, original sin, baptismal regeneration, the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament, the inerrancy of Scripture and many

The fact of the matter was it was the most "peaceful" because nothing that could cause contention was allowed to be discussed. The year before the National Convention , the district conventions were loaded with resolutions from pastors, circuits, and congregations issuing formal protest against the resolution put out by Synod that basically said that individuals (including individual pastors) did not have the authority to interpret Scripture--that it was Synod's responsibility to interpret Scripture. This flies in the face of the purposes of the very founding of our Synod, and indeed in the very face of the Reformation itself.

But in many districts, these resolutions were left to the end, when many delegates were no longer in attendance, were combined together into a form that did not exactly say what the previous resolutions had said, and some district conventions attempted to pass over these many resolutions as already being resolved.

The few that did make it out of the district conventions again were combined by the commitees to say something that none of the original protests actually said, and then were passed over as already being decided on.

The reason that the Convention was "peaceful" was that those who had grievances to voice before the body of the church were bound and gagged.

While I may maintain that the Harry Potter books are not Christian, there is a good deal of worldly wisdom in them. I believe it was Sirius Black who said "The world is not divided into good people and Death Eaters." There are also those who will change laws and ignore the need for true justice in the name of peace.

After Harry had witnessed Voldemort's return, and Dumbledore proclaimed it as truth, the Ministry of Magic, in fear of loss of order, ignored these claims and proclaimed Potter and Dumbledore to be nutcases. They also controlled the media and directed what and when things should be covered. They put a representative in Hogwarts to control Harry and keep an eye on Dumbledore. As the attempts to bring forth the truth continued, official "educational resolutions" came forward to prohibit gatherings, to silence protest, and to bolster authority of the bureaucracy and their representatives. Those who continued to protest were punished. Systems of justice that had always been in place were cast aside as well and replaced with new laws that dealt with the perceived crisis at hand.

In the last several years, the Synod has done just that. When they chose to not do their duty in administering church discipline to pastors who were not exhibiting unity in doctrine and practice, those who were voiced protests were silenced. Resolutions have been passed that took the authority away from the the believer, the shepherd, and the congregation to read Scripture and determine what it means -- in order to silence a beloved leader of the church who had the audacity to back up his claims that the Synod was wrong with Scriptural proof. Those who were not in agreement have been fired and/or kicked out of the Synod. Resolutions have also been passed that can be used to restrict independent gatherings and publications. The loves of our Synod since its beginnings -- mission and outreach have been drastically cut in order to support the burgeoning bureaucracy that is in St. Louis.

Martin Luther taught us that it is our individual responsibility to hold clergy accountable to follow the Word of God. He put Scripture in the language of the people so that they may learn the gospel, and also not be bound by laws that were not Scriptural. The LCMS was founded on the rights of individuals to do so. What authority Synod has comes to it because it was handed to it by the individual congregations. The synodical bureaucracy does not have the right to take it away from the very place it came from. I don't think that the answer is to leave and walk away, but it is our responsibility to not be silenced. It is our responsibility to know our Scripture, to know our catechisms, our history, and our bylaws so that we can cry out against this usurping...defending ourselves with the Word of God and to be sure that in our (just) anger, we do not sin. And to trust in the Spirit to change hearts and minds. We are to pray.

At the national convention, a call was made to create a new constitution. I believe that good COULD come out of this. But I am concerned. Soon, congregations will be handed synodically written Bible studies to start exploring the issues that will be addressed. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves as you evaluate these. Peace and silence are not necessarily the same thing. We do not have peace.