Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Carmelized Brussels Sprouts

Designated Knitter (the godmother of my children and my yarn/sushi pusher) mentioned my Brussels sprouts. I cook those differently than anything else. It was a recipe I got out of the newspaper.

Caramelization is slowly drawing out the natural sugars so that it is makes it brown, but not burnt. It is excellent. It is the first recipe that I ended up teaching to Maggie. I don't know how much sugar Brussels Sprouts have, but apparently you don't need much to caramelize. This has some fat to it, but butter or coconut oil are actually VERY good for you, so don't be afraid!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

1. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and cut woody bottoms off

2. Heat up a pat of butter in the pan. I actually use virgin coconut oil

3. add Brussels sprouts and toss them so that they are coated. Heat over medium heat.

4. Every five minutes, add another pat of butter or coconut oil (coconut oil is solid below 76 degrees, so it behaves like butter...but if it is liquid, estimate the same amount you would use) and coat sprouts. This takes maybe about 20 minutes total. Sprouts will just be starting to brown on the cut side...

5. Take off heat and add lemon juice and salt to taste :)

Designated Knitter isn't the first person who didn't like Brussels sprouts who did like these.


My friends Cheryl and Susan posted recently about vegetables. I struggle with vegetables because I struggle with cooking. Not that I am not good at it. I really am an awesome cook.

Actually, I just stink at the stuff surrounding cooking. I don't get to the grocery store as often as I should (ironically, I live across the street from one. However, I am really big on fresh produce, and they fail my test on that. They are great for the "Honey, we are out of this!" runs, though. And I am not talking behind their backs. I've told them. Heck, on more than one occasion, I've had to take back something I bought only five minutes before, once I cut it open).

I also stink at putting my stuff away and cleaning up, and so do the other three people I live with (I'm the best of the bunch, really) it always turns into a big project to cook, because there are four projects to do before I CAN actually cook (find the bottom of the sink, make space to work, put away a whole bunch of stuff, and get the kids to clean up the mess they made on the table). So there are way too many nights that McDonalds or Taco Bell does the cooking because of this, because we are already hungry, irritable, etc. when it comes time to look at getting dinner done (okay, add menu planning to the thing I am bad at getting done).

But I do like the cooking part (as does everyone else in the family, so again, it is a mess magnified).

I love veggies. We are working at getting more into our diet, so to think things through...I thought I'd do the same thing Cheryl did and see how many we are regularly eating, and how we can improve that.

Thinking through this process, I've also realized how much comes into play that I have a family (namely two males) who are rather picky when it comes to vegetables. The old one is getting better. The young one is getting worse, because he used to love anything and everything he doesn't. Sometimes I ignore it. Sometimes I avoid it.

Things we regularly eat:

salad greens (I am lazy, I buy the box premixed...but by doing this, I've found my husband tolerates more greens than even he thought he did. I used to avoid everything but Iceberg and butter lettuce because he'd complain about things tasting bitter. Maybe since I get the baby salad mixes, it hasn't had time to go bitter, either. Since I started doing that, I haven't bought a head of iceberg lettuce).

sweet potatoes
-roasted for an hour at 350. I have no idea why anyone would want to sweeten these up. They are heavenly.

bell peppers

asparagus (when in season) - I keep wanting to plant it in my garden, but I just KNOW that if I do, the year they finally will be ready to harvest to EAT, Jeff will get a call somewhere else. That is pastor's wives Murphy's Law.

broccoli (even though a certain young someone hates it)

cauliflower (and that young someone will eat it fresh, just doesn't like it cooked)

green beans (the only canned veggie I will eat, though fresh is better)

baby spinach (the kids will eat a bag of this like potato chips)

butternut squash (in the winter)

(woohoo, I hit 13!!!)

Things We Eat Sometimes:

cabbage (as naturally fermented sauerkraut. I have to make some of this. Oh man, it is so much better than vinegar fermented).
other types of squash
(if I can count corn, can I count other grains?)
(well, if you count how often Jeff does hot dogs and Bush's baked beans, they'd probably move up)

Things I Want to Try or Start Eating Again

beets - roasted. I make kvass with them occasionally. But it definitely is an acquired taste

jicama - I used to use this more when I was low-carbing.

cucumber - I like them. Nobody else does unless they have "Claussen" on the jar

radishes and radish greens - I think those are going in the garden next.

zucchini - these are going in the garden next, too. Again, nobody likes them but me, but with enough garlic, you can get my man to eat anything.

yellow squash - same

purslane - it is typically a weed, but it is REALLY good for you. It is the highest in Omega 3's out of ANY plant source. Good in salads, and I am told steamed. In fact, I have one patch in my garden that is growing because we actually planted seeds, and I have another variety growing in with our potatoes and watermelons that were completely unplanned.

broccoli raab

As far as veggies FAVORITE way too cook almost any is to roast them. I love to coat them with olive oil and throw a bunch together (usually always including carrots, celery (just for flavor), onion, and garlic). But then I will add asparagus, potatoes, squash, cauliflower, bell peppers, turnip, or something else. I'll coat with sea salt and then either put them in on their own, or throw a slab of meat on top and that is my one pot meal. It is SO good. In the Summer, my hubby will take whatever and do the same thing, but cut up the meat and put it all together in a foil pouch (huge foil pouch by the time he is done) and then throw that on the grill. No dishes to clean up. We also will put oil on asparagus and other things and just grill them. About the only thing I've found that isn't good roasted is broccoli, the flowerets anyway. The stalks are good that way.

I will occasionally steam, but I don't think I've ever boiled a vegetable. I don't like them that way.

I hope this post isn't as all over the place as I feel. That's why I highlighted the veggies in green...because I just can't seem to talk about anything lately without a ton of comments, or completely losing my train what word was I thinking of?)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Children in Church

Rebekah at CSPP has some great advice for parents, pastors, ushers, and others for making it easier for parents to bring their younger children to church.

I particularly like the giving temporary shut-in status to new mothers. With the exception of the child's baptism, the Orthodox still do that for their mothers, and many other religions have regulations that free them from having to perform daily rituals during the first several weeks after having a baby. In the United States, our mothers think they should be back on their feet and in full gear when they get home from the hospital. As a lactation consultant, a mother, and someone with a degree in psychology and child development -- this is very harmful to their well-being. They should be getting to know their baby, learning to breastfeed (because it is a learning process for both mother AND child, even if it isn't the first) and adjusting to life with a new little one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In a Tailspin

I've been a bad blogger. I know it :(

This week has been nuts. Chris was gone at Scout Camp last week...and he had a blast. He got a few merit badges, fired some rifles, got poison ivy and managed to survive....and just had a ton of fun. Maggie had a nice time being an only child for a week.

The 16th was Jeff and my 14th Anniversary. I can't believe I didn't have time to blog about that!

Sat the 19th was hugely busy. At 9:30 a.m. I picked Chris up from the church in Auburn where his Scout troop meets. Then, I dropped him off and Maggie got in the car and we took her marigold down to check in at the Allen County 4-H Fair in Fort Wayne (or is that technically Huntertown?). Which reminds me...we probably SHOULD go and water it. So if you go to the county fair, stop at the Mini-4-H Table and see Maggie's marigold. After that, we stopped at Sam's Club and ordered Maggie's birthday cake. Her birthday was a month ago, but some of her friends were out of town (and two of them had a mom in we had to make allowances), and so we waited until they were back. I couldn't believe I had done all of that by noon. I am not usually coherent until noon.

Sunday, Maggie had her 1st Communion, and that was beautiful. Then we went out to lunch with her godmother, Designated Knitter. The original plan was sushi, but the sushi restaurants weren't opening until 5:00 on Sunday, and so we ended up at Lucky's Tarrapin Grill where the kids had fun pulling the heads off crawfish....

Monday was Maggie's party at Chuck E. Cheese. I told her she can have a "special party" at 6, 12, and 18. But the big deal at 18 is she gets luggage ;)
They had a lot of fun. And, I have to admit, especially for a small group of girls like that, it was worth the money to let them do all the work.

The last couple of days have been recovery days...and today is my sweetie's birthday...So everyone say "Happy Birthday, Jeff!" or if you are more into can always call him Pastor.

Well, I've got my annual loaf of bread rising....(yes, I know it is midnight). So I am going to go now. Have a good night.

I have a plethora of blog posts in my head...but we'll have to take our chances with tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

St. Mary Magdalene's Day

In many ways, I am glad that the last meme I answered was "what were you doing ten years ago," not six years ago. But I'll tell you anyway.

Six years ago minus one day (the Sunday before the Feast of Mary Magdalene), I was standing at a font, holding my baby daughter as I could hear in my husband's voice that he was restraining tears of relief and joy as he poured the water over her head and baptized her in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The way that his voice broke revealed six years of pain culminating in that little baby in our arms. Three miscarriages, three years of infertility, working toward adoption, and 42 weeks where every day it was in the back of our minds that her heartbeat could stop at any time, just like it did with Noah's. We'd already almost lost her 6 weeks into the pregnancy. And then there was the time the doctor couldn't find her heartbeat, and Jeff waited two hours not knowing what I was dealing with as I watched her kick and dance on the ultrasound.

Despite all our efforts for a vaginal birth after a c-section, we ended up with another c-section, but she was healthy and beautiful.

And then she was baptized. Then we could relax. The first birth was important. This was the most important. She was a child of God now, made one in the death and resurrection of Christ. Every moment of my pregnancy was a reminder that I was almost powerless to keep her safe, and that I still am. But she is in God's hands.

Today, the Sunday before the Feast of Mary Magdalene, my daughter Magdalena was welcomed to the Table. I was able to commune with her for the first time. I could hear her confess her faith publicly as I often have privately. I could take comfort that she is being strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ, as she is fully capable of believing, and that she understands probably better than me. She doesn't have all the Science classes discussing the nature of matter or discussions with Baptists swimming around in her head like I do. She receives it in faith, the faith of a child that trusts that God is giving her forgiveness of sins, and knowing that she is sinful, she has talked about it and yearned for it for quite a while now.

Thank you dear Lord for Maggie being able to receive the most precious gift of your Body and Blood. For forgiveness of sins. For the comfort and strength that it brings to her faith, because it will always be weaker than it should be in this life. And for the comfort and strength that it brings to mine, being able to see her partake and be reminded that she is not only my daughter, but my Christian sister as well. (picture posted tomorrow)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Designated Knitter sent this to me a few weeks ago. Hard to believe the little turkey in my arms is away at Scout Camp for a week. (it is so QUIET) (and it is amazing how much comfort his baptism brings at moments like this).

Maggie: I can't believe how different you look

Me: Why? Do I look so much older now? (I didn't mention thinner :P)

Maggie: YES!!! (she got sufficiently tickled for that)

Poor me. Time to go get my hair colored.
Posted by Picasa

Comerica Park

It is hard being a Dodger fan and being so far away. Luckily there are things like the MLB package so that we can actually see the games (and In-n-Out commercials. That is tortuous). But the one thing I can say is that it at least affords us the opportunity to see other parks, occasionally. That wasn't too important to us when we lived in L.A. I've never even been to see the Angels at home (and since they keep changing their name and their field's name...I can't keep that straight, either). We did go to see the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks back when it was at "The BOB." (the saddest thing about Chase taking over Bank One was the loss of the coolest park name in baseball). And I've been to see the Padres twice, back when they played at Jack Murphy Stadium (aka Qualcomm). I'd love to see the new one.

But since we've left California, we've seen Coors Field (Rockies), Busch Stadium (Cardinals. We've all been to the old one, and Jeff has been to the new -- that's what happens when you let a Cards fan be godmother to your children), Great American Ballpark (Reds), and now Comerica (Detroit Tigers).

Last month, we went to see the Dodgers play the Tigers (and see them lower themselves to utilizing the abomination called the designated hitter). We went with my parents, who live in Michigan in the Summer. And I must say, I was very impressed. It's not easy to impress someone who is used to one of the most beautiful parks in baseball. Comerica was beautiful, and the fans were great. Some places can't really pump themselves up without cutting down the other team. The Dodgers don't do that...and neither did the Tigers.

(aside) The only time I have heard an opposing team booed at Dodger Stadium didn't have to do with the opposing team...those in the left field seats can't seem to resist chanting "Barry sucks" whenever Bonds came to town. It had nothing to do with his being a Giant. It had to do with his being Barry. But Dodger fans knew it way earlier than the rest of baseball -- it is an ontological thing. (Though I am sure that if Vin went down and graced left field, all who indulged in the ridicule would've hung their heads in shame, condemned by the class that exudes from his pores. No "talking to" would've been necessary) (I don't feel too guilty. The Giants are probably among the worst offenders of beatin' on the opposing team to make themselves feel better about themselves...though they are worse with the Dodgers than any other. Its a good rivalry).

double click to make album bigger

It was an interesting experience being in a park for a team that had a mascot that actually connotes power. When you think about it, most baseball teams don't have really powerful mascots -- Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Orioles, Blue Jays, Marlins, Angels, Phillies (just to name a few) -- not generally images that can leave you shaking in your shoes, if there really is even an image to think of.

The Tigers use tigers very well, and they don't go hokey, and they easily could. The statues of Tigers that were up above the gates, staring down on us were artistic, gorgeous, and very intimidating. There were heads of tigers (carved in stone, of course, not real) mounted all over the buildings, each gingerly holding a baseball in its mouth, gently holding it in place with its fangs. The scoreboard was awesome, also with two tigers flanking it, looking like they were pacing anxiously, getting ready for the kill). The carousel in the eating commons was composed entirely of tigers, rather than the menagerie of animals that we are used to. The announcer would roll his R's in a subtle growl when he would announce players coming up to bat (though it was subtle enough that it took a few innings to realize he was doing it). I really love how they embraced their "Tiger-ness." But no Tony the Tiger, nothing outright goofy.

The ballpark was small, but it was beautiful . While the Tigers do not have their own parking, there were plenty of lots close by, and plenty of workers willing to herd us in and guide us into a spot. I'd always balked at parks that "went commercial" with rides, bars, stores, and regular restaurants. But the commons area where there were restaurants and bars were nice. They also abstained from the goofy between inning promotions every inning. They had giveaways, but they weren't huge productions or terribly corny (you can have some fun). The Tigers did it all well, and didn't make it seem like an amusement park with a baseball game going on to the side. And I must say, the frozen daquiris (adult Icees) really hit the spot for me!!! (and my mom, too). I'm all for something like "Daquiri's" in Dodger Stadium. (Mr. McCourt...get on that!)

The park itself was flanked by two very old churches. I am sure there was some legal protection there that allowed them to stay in place (registered historical sites, I am sure). The Methodist Church took full advantage of it. They sold premium parking, sold peanuts, had a Tigers memorabilia store, and a chili bar. The church that flanked the other side seemed more quiet.

The game was good...but we lost, of course. The guys behind us were bantering with us the whole game...though as their alcohol flowed, the bantering was a little less coherent (and the sound system was balanced enough so we could hear them....a flaw that is increasingly common).

It was an awesome day. I wish I could say the baseball was as good. There were a few good plays, but it was one of those days where each team was proving who could lose it better, not who was more skilled. But when you have 162 games every year and when your team is in a pitiful hitting slump , there are going to be games like that. (Unfortunately, it is always when we manage to see our Dodgers on the road.) We were in it for a while though.

It was still good to cheer on my boys in blue though. I miss them.

Mixed Message

Every day, as our dutiful seminarians enter the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, they are confronted with this sign.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 13, 2008

George Lucas In Love

This has been around a while, but I have found myself referencing it several times in the last two weeks....

From "The League"

I always end up calling our fantasy baseball league "The League" with an ominous voice. It dates back to a series of commercials that ESPN had promoting their own league started with a guy contacting his friends "I'm getting THE LEAGUE back together." and then they'd run and try to get other guys. The best one was "Hey Tom, we're getting the League back together." "You keyed my car!!!" the other guy screams. "Yeah" the first one admits, "But its THE LEAGUE."

Heidi and John are the first marriage that has occurred in our Fantasy Baseball League (obviously, they knew each other outside of that). So, for this very special occasion, The League got them a commemorative baseball bat, engraved with their names, their wedding dates, and their team names, signed by all of us. This was Designated Knitter's brainchild, and she helped facilitate shipping it across the nation as well, so it could be signed by everyone.

We were the last stop on the "road trip," (living in close proximity and actually being able to attend the wedding) so it fell to us to figure out how to wrap it. I think the Commish (my ever so creative husband) did a great job, don't you? He definitely had fun with it.

We signed the card from everyone as well, and made sure to also include instructions that this cannot be used on each other, or on any of their future parishoners!!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 11, 2008

John and Heidi Sitting in a Tree....

Congratulations to our friends (and fantasy baseball colleagues) Heidi and John. Tomorrow, they will be married after a long friendship, and a hard courtship across country while he was on vicarage!!! (Aren't they cute???)
Joy of joys, all will be right tomorrow, and we look forward to celebrating with them!!!
Hey Heidi....aren't you glad we went for margaritas???

Holy Crud, Why Didn't Anybody Warn Me????

....that preteen BOYS are sulky and emotional, too??????

What We've Learned From Issues Etc., the First Week

I looked back at my old blog at Homeschoolblogger the other day, and found a statement that I now consider quite ironic. I said "I'm not a very political person, so that is my political statement for the year." I spent about five minutes looking at that statement, and then I laughed. I think it was more the timidity of realizing that I was actually being read by somebody (anybody) and getting used to that idea rather than my actual nature, which has since come to the front.

We've learned some things from the first week of Issues, Etc. (forgive me, I'm not far beyond that....I'm listening a segment at a time).

1. That these guys are TRULY classy and have good heads on their shoulders. Maybe everyone else knew that, but I was not a frequent listener to the previous incarnation because of my lack of technology or my lack of ability to type and listen to something at the same time. They have amazingly put forward the truth of their experience without doing more than seek to provide an accurate picture of why they were off the air for three months.

2. That they will have no problem maintaining guests on their shows. They have had professors from both seminaries, political figures, and good theological minds from within the LCMS and without. The only thing that will be different at this point in time is the ability to do remotes. They do not at this time have the equipment to do so.

3. That, as we pretty much knew already, they were the only show required to generate their own revenue. Maybe that is because they were syndicated.
4. That if you donated through the Reformation Club, not all of your donation went toward supporting Issues, Etc. If you lived within 100 miles of St. Louis, ALL OF IT went into the KFUO General Fund. Issues, Etc. benefitted from this in as much as they benefitted from the General Fund, but so did every other show on there, even though you were donating to support Issues, Etc. in particular.

5. The LCMS Foundation, the fundraising arm of the LCMS, to the best of their knowledge, did indeed take 40% of all revenue generated for KFUO to cover their costs for generating revenue for KFUO (even if they really didn't do the work to generate it, to my understanding). This is FAR higher than any industry standard, which is around 10% (just like with managing agents of all kinds).

There is no doubt why KFUO received poor grades by charity watchdog associations. This is unethical business practice for non-profits. When someone donates money to a charity for a specified use, they actually can get in serious trouble if it is discovered that the donation was used for something else.

This is not always a good thing. I used to work for Arrowhead Lutheran Camp in California, and we had lots of people donate for specific things like improving the cabins, but not enough people donating to our general funds. So this made us obligated to improve the cabins (and put some of our own funds toward completing the job), but we didn't have enough money to pay the bills. But, never the less, a designated fund is just that. Designated, not general.

6. That the predominant interest of KFUO was not in proclaiming God's Word, but to not offend anybody who would decide not to purchase advertising on KFUO's FM station, which is not Christian, it is a classical station. If they spoke about such very important issues such as Seminex/The Battle for the Bible or theological issues regarding Roman Catholicism, they were told to "watch out" and were given a "talking to." It created a very frustrating environment that generating revenue for their secular radio station was more important than God's Word and educating the laity on the Lutheran perspective of current events. (Stand Firm has transcribed the statement that Todd Wilken made on air, here. Many thanks to Scott Diekmann for doing so for all of us).

Good things to learn. Thanks to Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz for not signing the gag order that the LCMS wanted them to sign, and for sharing all of this.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ten Years Ago???

What was I doing 10 years ago?

I was living in our first place in Pasadena. Chris was walking and FINALLY getting teeth. I was working on my certification as a La Leche League Leader. Oh my goodness, I just realized I was pregnant with Noah and completely nauseous and uncomfortable. Wow, was that all ten years ago?

What are 5 things on my to-do list for tomorrow?

weed the garden
get stuff for Chris for camp
get milk (I drive 40 miles to get it)
homeschool lessons

Snacks I enjoy:

Right now I am craving Rubio's fish tacos. Mmmm

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Pay off my student loan
Donate to charity
Get car #2
See Europe
buy a small homestead where I can have chickens and a cow

Places I have lived:

Las Vegas, NV
Cedar City, UT
Yuma, AZ
Fort Wayne, IN
Pasadena, CA
Garrett, IN

Jobs I have had:

clothing salesperson/cashier (Millers Outpost, JC Penney, pet store, Christian bookstore, Sears)

camp counselor (Arrowhead Lutheran Camp) - junior counselor in high school, senior counselor, and then on coordinating staff. This is where I met my Honey.

Family-Child Advocate/ social work intern

Church secretary (on vicarage)

Certified Nursing Assistant (Townhouse in Fort Wayne. Jeff would drop me off early in the morning, go home and get ready for class, park the car there for me, and trudge across the field in the snow, all so I could wouldn't have to when I was done with work)

Group Home Trainer

Preschool teacher

Mom/homeschooler (the pay stinks, but the benefits are great)

Family Support Worker/social work - working with families whose children were in "the system"

Field Interviewer for social science research studies (current)

6 peeps I would like to know more about:

Elephant's Child, Polly, Indiana Jane, Barb the Evil Genius, Laura, Beth at Thursday's Musings.

(I'll put in the links later, I have to get my son to the doctor..eek, I'm almost late!)

Days 5 and 6

Day five had us waking up in Kona, back on the Big Island, but on the other end. It was a wonderfully relaxing day. We took it easy. The kids had been really pushing to go to a beach, and Kona had one that was easy to get to. It was in the harbor.
This was the one port where we couldn't get right off the ship and be on land. We had to get on the boats. They really were impressive. they reminded me more of something you would see at Disneyland, only bigger and faster. Each holds over a hundred people in nice neat rows, so getting on land was much less of a headache than I had thought, even though they only used two that they kept going all day.

We went to the beach and Chris rented snorkel equipment and spent the majority of the day in a dead man's float (something that he hitherto had not really been able to master) looking at the fish below him. Maggie met various little girls her age and played while I just watched. At lunch, I walked down the street and and found this little Indonesian restaurant hidden in the corner of a shopping center with much more pronounced (and expensive) restaurants. I got a couple orders of satay and brought them back to the beach.

Later, we walked down the street that ran along the coast, past the hotels and saw the oldest Christian Church in Hawaii, which was quite pretty in a simple way. It reminded me of the Catholic mission churches in California, and like those churches, they still were an active congregation. We also walked by Lileokelani's palace, where she had been held captive until she abdicated the throne. It was not open that day, due to repairs.

I believe that it is also the one where there now is a "protest government" residing on the grounds, peacefully calling for a return of the monarchy and for Hawaiians to rule themselves. That rebellion in and of itself is an amazing thing. The group that is there is actually there with a permit. They keep applying to have it renewed, and as long as they are not actually causing problems, the government, which they don't recognize as having any authority (though they apply for permits) has no problem with renewing it and allowing them to continue. The group has no inclination toward violence and the government is laid back enough to recognize their right to protest, but to not see it as a threat to its existence. Though be warned. From what I am told (by my brother who lives on Oahu), there are places where it isn't necessarily safe to be alone and be white. There are groups that hold to the more traditional way of life and resent that their government and their country was taken from them and that they are a state to a country that they want no part in.

One of the interesting things about Hawaii that you don't find other places is that you can't own the coastline. The beach belongs to everyone. Even the hotels don't own the beach, so if they have a nice beach, you can go there, locals can go there (Ko Olina, where we stayed later, tries to limit that by only providing limited parking and turning people away at the gate when parking is full, but the locals know how to get around this. Even the all powerful Marriot resorts does not own the beach in Hawaii) Cousin Daryl told us this on our tour. He considers it his duty (as do many others) to remind hotels of this by walking through the hotel lobby with his friends and their surfboards if any new hotels have neglected to add an accessway to the beach. Often they say that the architecture doesn't allow for it. But having a plethora of locals going through your lobby all day every day usually means that they find a way to make an access within a week.

Day 6 found us on the island of Kauai, the greenest place I have ever seen. It is nicknamed the Garden Island. In fact, the peak of the Mount Waiʻaleʻale is the wettest place on earth, receiving over 460 inches of rain per year. Here, you can see the Captain Cook Pines (the straightest pines I have ever seen...the British planted them so that they could come to Hawaii and replace their masts) and the wild chickens all over the place by the side of the road. The Filipinos that settled there had kept chickens for food and cockfighting, but the hurricane that hit in 1992 destroyed many a chicken coop, and so now they roam wild. They are protected, to a certain extent. If you want one for food, that is okay, but you are not allowed to kill them just for sport. Most of Kauai's souvenirs involve chickens. This hurricane proved that Hawaii could be hit by them. It was believed there was some sort of weather protection before that.

My sister and my niece went kayaking. I had wanted to go until they came back coated with mosquito bites, and then I was glad that we had just taken the public bus around for a while to look around. Hawaii, being created as it was by volcanic activity and being so isolated,(and still being created by volcanic activity. They have a new island that is already named...though it won't surface for 100,000 years by estimate) was supposedly mosquito free until Captain Cook found the islands and left mosquito larvae in the water when they refilled their water casks in the streams. My sister and niece were in an area where the tropical forest was particularly dense, and so the mosquitoes were more prevalent, in Waimea Canyon.

Kauai's beaches are not as safe for swimming as the other islands. Chris pronounced right then that he would not want to live there because of that, though surfing is of course recognized. When King Kamehameha the Great united the islands under one kingdom, Kauai was the last to come under his control. Twice Kamehameha tried to send an armada, but weather and sickness intervened. The King of Kauai eventually handed Kauai over to him and became a vassal in order to preserve the peace.

The second day we left earlier than we normally do (before sunset) so that the ship could take us by the Na' Pali coastline, which was spectacular (and this was taken with my cell phone!). There were whales all around us, including babies. We saw the mist rise from their blowholes and saw a flash of a fluke or two, but no one breached. It seemed like it was just too relaxing a day for anything like that. We went up across it, turned around and saw it from the other side of the ship, and wokeup docked in Honolulu where we were encouraged to get off the ship quickly so they could prepare for the next round of tourists that afternoon.

I would heartily recommend seeing the islands by cruise if you have a chance. It had all the luxury of cruising, and there isn't really a much more convenient way to get to all the islands. By air and the new ferry are the only other ways. It was a nice pace, the food was good, and the rooms were comfortable. Our room attendant had a particular talent, too (I'm told that it was fairly unique...people were jealous). Every night when we came into our room, we were greated with a new "towel-gami" creature. Turtles, crabs, swans, komodo dragons etc. Here are a couple of pictures. (I saw a book at the library...I just think this is cool!)

Monday, July 07, 2008

An Interesting Analysis of Missions

An interesting analysis of the trend in Missions for short term lay missions over long term missionaries that go into countries and stay there, ministering to those who are there teaching the gospel and learning from those who are there. The trend is all over Christianity, not just in the LCMS.

Also missing...pastors who can provide long term Word and Sacrament ministry to those who are being born in Christ, who can raise up these Christians in pure doctrine, and help to train future leaders in the churches he plants and sustains.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for short term missions such as what Friends of Mercy hosts (and I also encourage you to contribute to them if you want to be assured that what you donate WILL actually make it to fund missions in the near future. They separate from the LCMS, and doctrinally solid as well).

My husband has been on a few short term missions, and it is still near and dear to our hearts. But short term missions work best when the people who are coming over to help with projects, etc. are there to encourage the missionaries who are there serving long term. They encourage them by their presence; they remind them that there are people back home who are praying for them and thinking about them, when it is such a temptation to feel alone; they give them contact with the familiar; and they help with work that desperately needs done. There is so much that can be done, both in the sharing of the gospel and in the social work aspect as well. God bless those who do contribute funds and time to go help those who are needy. God also grant that we have a better atmosphere for sending long-term missionaries out into the field to share Christ with the world as well.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Good Day

This morning as I was figuring out breakfast, I opened the curtains to our back patio, and look what greeted me!! There is absolutely no way to have a bad day when it starts off this sweet !!!

A little later, it got revised. We are trying to improve math skills around here, after all. :)
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hawaii Days 3 and 4

I won't be going through all the days, but the cruise went around to the different islands, and there was a little bit of information for all of them.

On days 3 and 4, we were in Maui. Maui was the most "developed" of all the islands and our experience was the most commercial. We kind of reserved Maui for taking it easy. The kids and Jeff played on the boat, and I went ashore with my mom.

There is this particular business in Hawaii that you hear about all over. It is called "Hilo Hattie's." And it is okay as far as things go, definitely worth checking out. My mom and I took the chartered bus to Hilo Hatties mostly because it was in a shopping center of other things. But I tried on a dress there and there were some cool souvenirs.

There also is a pearl jewelry stand there. And here, you have to beware. When you go in the door, you get a coupon. Amazingly, this coupon tells you that you won a free chance to open up an oyster. So they lead you over to the jewelry stand, and show you the oysters and explain that the best pearls are in the ugliest oysters. So you pick one and open it up. Lo and behold, there is a beautiful pearl inside...and it is yours. But a beautiful pearl of course needs a beautiful setting. And they do have some beautiful settings. Expensive settings. (the plumeria ones are the prettiest). And if you get one setting, you are entitled to .....(drum roll please) ANOTHER FREE OYSTER.... The coupon that originally brought you to the door also had a percentage discount on purchases...And so they ring a bell and proclaim loudly "A LOOOO HA" as you pick another one, and they start to drool. The fine print on those coupons is that it doesn't apply to the settings (though I have no idea what it would apply to, since that is ALL they have). And they will tell you that once the pearl is set in the jewelry that is NOT discounted, you have to pay. You don't.

So after our foray at Hilo Hatties, we went to Starbucks and Jamba Juice (oh, Jamba Juice how I miss you), and to the grocery, where my mom picked up a twelve-pack of Diet Pepsi, since the cruise ship charged $50 for a card for unlimited soft drinks...and that was the only way to get soft drinks from them (well, you could buy them from the bar). My mom chose to find alternate means. I used it as a means to FINALLY break my addiction to soft drinks (7 months without now...and don't miss it at all). After we got that and ate, we went out to wait for the bus when the monsoon hit. In a matter of a minute or two, that soda box was soaked. It really is amazing that it made it all the way home.

The public bus showed up and the driver wanted to pick us up on the return trip but we assured him we had no problem with riding the bus around the loop. It dropped us off at the mall, and then we took a cab the 1/2 mile from the mall to the dock.

We also celebrated New Years Eve in Maui on the boat. The kids loved the Kids Club that was there and partied there with face painting, music, and games. We got to watch all the fireworks that were being launched from the shore. Apparently it is a big tradition for everybody to launch fireworks for New Years there. You could see them sparkling and exploding all along the mountain sides from people's houses.

On Day 4, we rented cars and as a family, we all went to Lahaina, which was beautiful. You could see Molokai off the coast (which really just looks like this little atoll. ) The whale watching boats all said that there were whales in the harbor, but we couldn't seem to glance them. Lahaina really is beautiful. A bit commercialized. Lots of typical restaurants like Bubba Gumps, art galleries, souvenir shops, and whale watching ventures.

There was a commemoration to the missionaries who came to Hawaii there. It was nice to see such a positive portrayal of the missionaries. I can't remember the name, but there was a Hawaiian prince who went to Harvard University. There, he told people about his homeland and earnestly desired to return home to continue Christianizing his people and educating them. Only 14 days before he was to depart, though, he caught a disease and died. His Congregationalist colleagues and friends though organized a missionary effort to Hawaii both to spread the Gospel and to teach literacy. Hawaii became one of the most literate cultures in the world. The missionaries were determined to educate the Hawaiians because they knew that the rest of the world would no longer leave them alone and they needed to know how to become a part of it.

Yes, Christian missionaries did not always act with cultural sensitivity toward Hawaiians, and there were many injustices that were perpretrated against Hawaii by Americans in the name of Manifest Destiny, including the forced abdication of Queen Lileokelani. Even our President condemned the action. But at the same time, it was good to see a positive portrayal of how Christianity helped to improve society. So often now, that is overlooked.

Lahaina has a beautiful park with this amazing tree. The root system for this tree took up the whole park, and occasionally, trunk and branches would shoot up out of the ground here and there, maybe 50 feet away from each other, but it was still the same tree.

After Lahaina, we drove around the north shore of Maui into some more sheltered areas. We saw some beautiful coastline with some amazing swells coming in. But we didn't go all the way, because the rent-a-car company kind of recommends that you stay off certain roads, and if something happens, they can't come and get you on dirt roads.

I'd really wanted to see Kona, but all in all, this was a beautiful time, and it was the main time we all went out together all of us as a family. That was the best part.

Yet Your Desire Will be for Your Husband

"To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply yourpain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children: Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Genesis 3:16

I have heard two interpretations of this from pastors in the last several months. The first was when I stopped and listened to a sermon on the radio from a Calvary Chapel show (I know -- not my usual thing, but it amazed me that as I was scanning that the pastor actually spent five minutes talking about how you can't come to faith unless the Holy Spirit draws you.) Basically, he interpreted this as once a guy and a girl get married, the man starts focusing on work, etc. and she starts wondering "why doesn't he pay more attention to me?"

The other pastor that addressed this text in a Bible class, put the emphasis on "he shall rule over you" and believed that "your desire shall be for your husband" was that woman will desire that power to rule, but in the end, it belongs to man.

This post that I have referred to before on the Concordian Sisters' blog has had me thinking on this for quite a while.

These aren't the first times that I have heard such interpretations of these verses, and the big issue that I see is that in an age of birth control and planned family size -- and subsequent separation of sex and reproduction, we fail to see how really truly powerful this proclamation is, and so we find ourselves reading other things into it rather than letting the text speak for itself.

In Genesis 2, God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and multiply. Having children was something inherently human, even before The Fall. It was integrally part of who we were, and what our purpose was.

Think of what that meant. Having children was an unadulterated blessing. Nothing tainted it. There was no fear of childbirth... no pain, no death, no destruction of figure, no bodily deterioration. Nursing didn't hurt and wasn't complicated or tainted with carnal implications and cultural negativity. Babies inherently trusted and that trust was not in jeopardy from parents who would be tempted to put their own needs first. Exhaustion would not exist. Our children would be without sin and our marriages would be peaceful. Punishment and discipline would not be issues. Fear of harm coming to our children or spouses...death was not in the picture.

Now, look at what the fall into sin meant....Pain, possibility of death in childbirth, infections. Loss of figure, physical problems, c-sections, infertility, etc. Babies crying for hours at a time because of colic, exhaustion, isolation, depression; husbands that weren't supportive or worse yet, weren't there. Breastfeeding problems, formula feeding, the terrible twos -- the worse threes; adolescence. Bickering siblings, disobedience, punishment, frustration, harm, injury, handicaps; death.

Common sense would say that we should all go the route of Scarlett O'Hara who told Rhett Butler after Bonnie's birth that she was done with sex. But that was exactly the thing that was so inhuman about Scarlett O'Hara. To do so is displaying a blatant lack of trust in God and in marriage, which He created. Despite all of these things that wear us down, ranging from our own vanity (which has its roots in the knowledge that we are heading toward death, and we shouldn't be), to the exhaustion that children bring, to the fear and the grief that come along with them and forever taint whatever joy they bring...our desire is still for our husbands. We still want that love, that intimacy, that ultimate union that until this century, brings more children.

And with all of that, we have to put our trust in a man who is also a sinner, and even if he is a good man, he will hurt us. He will fall short. He will sometimes not understand our burden. And at times, we will hurt him, and hurt because we hurt him. We will fall short. And we will not understand the burden that he is under to care for us like Christ loved the church and gave His life for her, either.

It is a frightening thing being a woman under the curse of sin.

Whether one believes that contraception is good or is sinful or has not thoughts on it whatsoever... as a society, it has taken fertility and made it somewhat more foreign to the human experience, less natural, and has made verses like these a bit more alien to our experience...more unfathomable.

It definitely isn't about wanting a little more attention and an occasional date on Friday night, though it gets lonely when we are not valued and cherished. It isn't about craving power and headship -- though that is always there when sin is there.

Thankfully, God is faithful. Children, all children, are still a blessing from God, even with the sometimes terrifying, exhausting burden and chaos that they can also bring. When He provides the blessing, He also provides the means to care for it, to show more love than we ever knew could be there. More than we ever will, God knows what He is doing, and He gives us the means to bear it.

And There Was Much Rejoicing

This week has been a good week. Issues, Etc. was returned to the air thanks to the upstart Pirate Christian Radio.

I also heard that Pastor May, after being called home by LCMS World Mission has received a call from the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.

Wow...phew. What a relief. The guys at Issues, Etc. seem to be rejoicing in their new freedom. Pastor May and family are presumably being returned to the mission field. All is right with the world.

Only, its not. Don't get me wrong...there is great reason to rejoice. Satan lost the battle over Issues, Etc. Pastor Wilken is still on the air proclaiming the gospel, even better and more clearly than before now that he doesn't have to worry about what management will say over their programming decisions. Pastor May will still be working to forward the gospel in whatever capacity LHF has for him. These are great things.

But our Synod is still working with a mindset that limits the gospel for various reasons. It is still calling home pastors from the mission field and sending out "bridge builders" instead, so that people who even get a chance to hear the gospel from our missionaries are still deprived of the Sacraments. It is still funding churches who don't use the name Lutheran, don't worship in a Lutheran manner, and don't teach Lutheran doctrine-- for the sake of drawing people in. It is still putting raising money over spreading the gospel on the oldest Christian radio station in the nation. It is still withholding your donations to World Relief for such things as Hurricane Katrina, for undetermined amounts of time, in order to earn the interest first.

Until our Synod trusts that God will remain faithful if we faithfully proclaim His Word and cling to solid doctrine, we will continue to fall further away from "our grandfather's church."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I've Entered the 21st Century

In honor of Issues, Etc.'s return, I have entered the 21st Century and bought an MP3 player. After much deliberation, I have decided to not do an Ipod, and have picked up a Phillips Go Gear 4 MB instead. (for 1/3 the price). The only problem is that I can't seem to make it recognize my playlists from Windows Media Player. It just throws everything together under songs, including podcasts.

If anyone has any idea how to correct that...please let me know!

A Great Post

I'm back from four days in Chicago at a training for work. I'm still gathering my thoughts on that one, so I am going to just refer you to someone else's good writings!

Pastor McCain at Cyberbrethren has a very good post on how without doctrine, you can't have mission, and without mission, there is no point to doctrine.

I especially liked in the comments section, where someone refers to a quote from a Reporter supplement saying about the SMP program --

"We can't assume we will have the luxury of training workers [pastors] first when people are dying without the Lord Jesus."

Then Pr. McCain responds rightly that Jesus knew what He was doing when He handpicked twelve men and trained them for three years, and when He took Paul into the desert for a time of training before sending Him out.

As he rightly and capably said "This kind of talk is emotionalistic and lacking in proper awareness of the need for well educated pastoral theologians. People are dying every single day, and I do not see med schools rushing men out undertrained."