Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Hypothetical

...and I'm not advocating this, necessarily. I am just wondering.

With the Supreme Court banning death sentences for child rape, what exactly would happen if a state chose to stand on its authority to determine sentences, and chose not to abide by the decision?

I'm rather a strict constructionist, and I'm wondering why they should've been even hearing this case in the first place.

Winding Down?

May and June have been terribly hectic months, but it looks like things are winding down....

This week alone had several things. First of all, Chris got confirmed. He's worked long and hard for two years and loved it much more than I ever did. In fact, I asked him what he is going to do with his Wednesday nights, and he said "Well, I just might sit in on at least some of the classes again and see if I can get it down even better." Wow. I think we could all learn a lesson from that.

He chose the Third Article for his statement and did a very good job talking about how the Holy Spirit brings us to faith and puts us into the body of believers (congregation) in order to grow in the faith by Word and Sacrament and to strengthen others.

Our Pacific Southwestern traditions do not hold to really having a huge confirmation party like they do here, and I do not like all the association with "graduation." Confirmation is more of a beginning, not an end to learning the teachings of our Church (and really, it is not a beginning, either. We parents have the responsibility of raising them in the faith). Instead, we had a quiet lunch with Chris's godmother, Designated Knitter. They made good on their long standing plans to have lobster. When Chris was little, DK said that she ate kitten and noodles, and Chris thought that was gross. She told him it tasted like chicken. So to prove her point, they each got a lobster (yep, picked them out from the tank) and named one "Cat" and one "Chicken." And sure enough, Cat does taste like Chicken."

It was a nice day.

This week, both Chris and Maggie are finishing baseball, which puts an end to 3 or 4 nights a week at the baseball fields. It was fun, but we all are looking forward to getting our evenings back. Chris hadn't played in the last couple of years, and really loved being back and played really well. Maggie learned some skills and is looking forward to softball next year.

VBS is done. Jeff put in a lot of hours before and during, as did so many others in our congregation. It really was wonderful. The kids loved it. We ended up tweaking the Concordia VBS in order to make it express the gospel more clearly and talk down to the kids less. My husband spent hours every night writing a new puppet show that would better express the theme. He had fun though. He said "Where else can I have a job where I write sermons, research papers, AND puppet shows?"

Maggie had her birthday Tuesday. She's six. It doesn't seem like it was six years ago that I first looked into those blue eyes and told her that I loved her. But apparently it was.

Now, the only things really going on are Maggie's 4-H project and my work. And I will have to be making a few trips to Indianapolis and South Bend in regard to that.

Speaking of that, the blog posts will be non-existent for the next few days. I get to go to Chicago for training. I don't get to drive though, so I am bummed about getting that close to an IKEA and not get to indulge. There are so many things I need!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hawaii, Day 2

After cruising all night (and my one brush with seasickness, but I didn't lose anything) we woke up and had breakfast. The main buffet style restaurant also had kid-sized tables and a low buffet table for them as well. We could see out the big window as we docked in Hilo (Hilo and the nene goose were web-acquired).

Hilo is probably my favorite, mostly because it was the least touristy. Every town seemed to know the cruise ship itinerary by heart, and this was even when we were away from the shore area. But Hilo seemed
the most real and the least upscale (though far from inexpensive).

In the picture of Hilo, you can see Mauna Kea rising in the background. It is actually the world's tallest mountain from base to summit...but several thousand feet of it are under the water. There is almost always snow on the top.

Hilo is where we took the one tour that we went on. We went to Rainbow Falls, Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, and an orchid nursery. We were picked up by "Cousin Daryl." (all the tour guides tell you to call them cousin.) Daryl was truly interesting. As we drove through Hilo, he pointed out where the Coca Cola factory used to be before the big tsunami in the 1970's. Hilo lost a lot of jobs after the tsunami, and Daryl indicated that the economy never really recovered after that. His own parents left he and his brother to live with his grandparents on their farm because they could only get jobs on Oahu, so they commuted weekly. He also pointed out the structure of the houses that were on Hilo. They all had corrugated tin roofing and were about three feet off the ground to protect from the termites that could chew through concrete. Strangely enough, I found them really charming.

Our first stop was Rainbow Falls, which was pretty enough, but very touristy. It had safety rails all around the canyon, scenic points, and a gift shop. We stayed there a little less than a half hour.

Then it was off to Volcanoes National Park where we saw Mt. Kilauea and hiked through a volcano flume that the volcano was no longer using. It was huge though, 15 feet high in some places. We went to a couple of the craters, including this one, which I believe is the one that has been erupting now for the last few months. When we were there, it was just issuing steam, and reeking of sulfur. It was also the volcano where Queen In April Kaʻahumanu, wife of Kamehameha The Great, and Queen Regent, challenged the goddess Pele to show her power, and when nothing happened, she converted to Christianity.

Not much grows around the volcanoes because of the sulfur, except for small berries, and they are the primary food of the Nene Goose. The Nene is Hawaii's state bird, and is a flightless goose. It is said that when Captain Cook came, there were at least 25,000 of them, but with the introduction of predators such as the mongoose, the population has dwindled significantly. It is an endangered species.

When we were done looking at the volcanoes, we talked with Daryl. Daryl told us about how he grew up on his grandparents' farm and how he would go to tribal gatherings and such with them. His grandparents' farm had been destroyed when the lava floes changed their path, and the insurance had an interesting trick. Basically, if the lava actually destroyed the propane tanks or the house, then they would pay. But if they actually caught on fire before the lava actually reached it, which is what usually happened due to the intense temperatures, they would claim it was fire and not lava, and refuse to pay. This in some ways was to protect themselves, because some people were known to be somewhat outside of the path and would ignite their own propane tanks. The government was giving land to those who had to be relocated, but it was not equal value, so his family chose to keep the farm, and now since the floe has changed, they have returned.

Since we asked, Daryl also commented about the tension between modern "white" culture and native culture. He didn't seem to sit in judgement on either, because he had lived both, but he did say "a lot of people want to hate the whites and want to cling to their roots, but they still want their condos and their Hondas. They can't have it both ways." Daryl almost got defensive when he said "I've been off the rock. I've gone away to school, and I've even traveled the world because I was an engineer with a big oil company, but my mom asked me to come back so the family could stay close, and how could I refuse her that." He really was a fascinating guy.

After Volcanoes N.P., we went to Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut farm. There were some grown there, but the majority were not grown there anymore. Guava is becoming more popular, however, it is risky. If they get an infestation of Happy Face Spiders, the trees cannot be harvested until they have been clear for two years. Mauna Loa was geared for tourists, and they had a sandwich shop and a factory store. We got the most amazing chocolate clusters which were "factory seconds" They were not perfect enough to put into packages and send to stores, but they were more than delicious enough for us. In fact, they were better than anything we have ever tasted that had endured shipping. I give a thumbs up to the Wasabi Macadamias as well.

I'm not a big orchid fan, though some of them were amazing, so it was worth seeing, but I was ready to get back to the ship.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hawaii, Day 1

Right after Christmas, my parents took us all to Hawaii for their 50th Wedding Anniversary (all three kids and their spouses, and the minor children -- Courtney, Chris, and Maggie). The first week, we took a cruise around to the major islands. The second week, we stayed at my parents' timeshare at Ko Olina, which is right outside of Honolulu on Oahu. Two things kept me from posting for this long. The first is that I really just needed time to process it. It was a wonderful trip. The second was that my card reader broke, and it is getting harder and harder to find a reader that takes sD cards. I guess that is a clue that it might be time to get a new camera sometime in the future....

This started with an early morning rush to get to the airport. The instant we got off the plane in Honolulu and walked through the doors, heat and humidity hit us. In three days we'd undergone major climate change. We left Indiana which was in the 20's when we left and then landed in Las Vegas (where I grew up) where it was in the high 50's. Despite what my mother thinks, it felt WONDERFUL, and we walked around the neighborhood in short sleeves. I can't begin to tell you how much I missed mountains -- and these were MY mountains. Mount Charleston, the Spring Mountains, Red Rock Canyon, Sunrise Mountain. Jeff commented how much Honolulu, especially at the airport, felt like the Philippines.

We flew Hawaiian Air, which was very nice, and we quickly learned the words we'd be hearing continually all over the islands Ma Halo -- "thank you" was the one we heard the most, even more than Aloha. Once we landed, we made our way to the Wiki Wiki bus (which brings back memories of the ferret on the Budweiser commercials "wiki wiki") which took us to our luggage, then my dad herded us out to catch a Roberts Bus that would take us to the docks.

If you every DO take a trip to Hawaii and want to do tours, Roberts Hawaii is the way to go. The cruise ship had this huge list of tours, and the prices were OUTRAGEOUS. When we got on the Roberts Bus that would take us to the dock, they handed us a sheet of comparable tours that they offered for often 1/3 the price. And the tour guides were wonderful.

So then we got to the ship and went through all of that rigamarole to get on the boat. We met a really nice non-denominational pastor's family while we were waiting. They were from the Big Island of Hawaii, and locals often get special deals on the Hawaiian cruises for rooms that aren't taken. They'd found out they could come THAT day. He actually had to leave the ship twice and take an airplane back to his congregation to lead services twice during their trip.

Here is where you are going to find out how truly lame I am. I had to get a picture of the cruise ship from off the internet. I am usually all about taking pictures of scenery. In fact, I usually don't have many pictures of my family and friends because I don't want them to get in the way of the scenery. This trip was different. Most of the pictures you really can't tell where we are...isn't that sad? But I do have lots of pictures of the family.

But anyway, here is the ship, the Pride of America. NCL's Hawaiian ships are the only cruise ships registered to the United States. From what the staff told us, most cruise ship companies said that it could not be done and still make money because you could not work out paying the staff the same way most cruise ships do in other countries. To register the ships in the U.S. means that they had to follow U.S. guidelines on how they paid their staff. I'm willing to bet that this is a picture of her docked in Kona on the Big Island, because that was the only port where we couldn't come up to shore and instead had to take the little boats in (little is relative, each could hold about 100 people, easy).

The evening was wonderful. They had incredible food on the ship, and it wasn't at all like "Love Boat" portrayed. The ship had several restaurants, most of them were included in the cost of the ticket (some were extra special, and there were extra charges to eat there). You could eat what wanted and wear what we wanted.

After dinner, we found a quiet deck and my husband read the renewal of vows for my parents. They've truly had a challenging 50 years. Not all of those years were good in any of our memories, but I am really thankful that they stuck it out. I know they have been a blessing to me, and now in their retirement, I know they are a blessing to each other. They've taught me a lot. I was also glad that my children were there to see it.

Look Ma, Two Wheels

As I said, things have been busy. I've finally gotten around to getting a new card reader (and miracle of miracles, it actually will read the card from my camera AND my phone).

So now I can share with you pics of Maggie, sans training wheels. I think it took her all of five seconds, but Daddy's hand was on her back for a while to give her a little feeling of security. Daddies are wonderful.

This also means that Hawaii pics are finally coming....
Posted by Picasa

If I Procrastinate Long Enough...Someone Else Will Do It For Me

A while back, I posted a portion of a sermon by Luther. Really, the reason why I posted it is because it was so harsh. It really hit the law in a way that was very strong.

At first I was waiting for the very existence of time, but that never comes. Then I was waiting for my e-version of the Book of Concord (woo-hoo), but then that still means I need time to write, because the posts that I write where I am citing take more time than anything else. You wouldn't think so, since I am letting someone else do the writing. The citations are there (and not just in the Formula), so maybe someday.....

There were two points I was trying to make. Luther ended his sermon with Law, and he often did, early in his career or late in his career. His sermons often had the structure of Law - we don't fulfill it, Gospel -- we are forgiven, and then He would tell us how we should respond to the fact that we have received Christ's forgiveness, by praying for our neighbor, or desiring to do God's will. In reality, the structure of his sermons often follow the same outline he puts in each little explanation in the catechism.

The second point was that Lutherans do preach good works. The Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Intro to each Catechism say that we do as well. When I was on Wittenberg Trail a while back, someone was asking "why don't pastors preach vocation" and a number of church workers came back with the thought that they weren't supposed to. Yet Luther said in His catechism that if you have a lot of mechanics in your congregation, you should preach on the 7th commandment, since they are prone to stealing, and that applies to merchants and servants as well. I am paraphrasing, because I don't have time to look it up. The person that asked this was really questioning this, she wanted guidance from her shepherd on what good works are. Yet she was bitingly told that what she really wanted was an easy list to know whether or not she had done good enough that day or reasssurance on whether she "measured up" or not, and that was not what Christianity was about. When no, this was a woman who loved God, was happy to be saved, and wanted guidance. Luther understood that. He preached on it, wrote on it, taught people how to pray (his booklet to his barber on how to pray the catechism and the Psalms comes to mind), how to examine themselves, and explained what good works were, frequently -- from his explanation to the Ten Commandments -- to the Apostles Creed "for all of this, we should thank and praise, serve and obey Him"
Anyway, The Confessional Gadfly today has a post about good works and how they show they can serve as a Christian self-diagnostic, and what you should do about it if you don't like what you see (and we probably should not generally like what we see, though at times, our works and the attitudes in which we do them do show how much we have grown in faith, and we can praise God for making that happen in us!!!) In reality, it is a reiteration of what Luther was talking about in the sermon section that I posted in April.

The batteries in my keyboard are going, I menus are popping up all over the I guess it would be time to go now!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Truth Hurts

Okay, so the actual words DID show up in a post that I wrote....but when I was going through my Sitemeter stats I can't help but wonder....

Why am I the very TOP of the list on a Google search for "Lutheran geeky introvert staring at computer?"

Praying for Your Pastor

Father DMJ has a very good post about praying for your pastor. I highly recommend going over and reading it. Your pastor definitely needs your prayers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making Doctrine

Recently, I did a little browsing at the blog of the Pastor Tim Kade, of Epic Church (famous for their sex series during Lent). He said something on a post that struck me...

As a leader, you can hold me accountable to not settle for informing people, but to genuinely inspire people toward Christ’s vision.

It struck me because one of the things that I am sure of is that there is so much disagreement about what we think Christ's vision is between those that we now call "Ablaze types" and confessionals.

So I asked what he meant by Christ's vision. He responded:

To me the vision of the church is straight out of Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Did you notice that he added a word? I've checked four different translations, and I have not seen the word "new" in reference to the baptized. In a post that was published the next day, he says "The church doesn’t exist for the programs it produces; it doesn’t even exist for the people sitting in the seats. The church exists for people in the community who have yet to meet Jesus, Our primary mission is Matthew 28:18-20."

There is a problem when a church bases its doctrine (or practice) on one verse. Actually, Epic Church's isn't the worst error that can happen when doing this. I don't know enough about what is literally taught from their pulpit or stage to know that the Christ that is proclaimed there is the Jesus of the Nicene Creed. I expect that it is, and I hope that it is. Plenty of cults base some of their key doctrine on one verse. The Mormons base their whole view of the afterlife on "Have I not called ye gods?" Various heresies have occurred because one verse was picked over another, and the rest were ignored.

Lutherans have a rule for interpreting what a verse means. "Scripture interprets scripture." When a verse is unclear, we look to the rest of Scripture to clarify it. We do not make doctrine based on one verse. That is not the rule of The Church, even from ancient times.

As great as the Great Commission is, it is not the only thing that the Bible says about the role of The Church, or of her pastors. There is a lot there. Jesus asked Peter to feed his sheep. Being a shepherd is not something you do just for new sheep. In fact while young lambs are in danger from maybe one wolf, older lambs are in danger from lions and packs of wolves. They still need their shepherd. They still need to be fed and kept safe. I'm wondering exactly how long it takes to teach new disciples ALL that Jesus has commanded us. I would think that is a job that is never done until we meet our Savior in heaven.

Not only that, when you read the books that describe the life of The Church, you find that it really IS about the people in the pews. Acts describes how the Holy Spirit not only worked through the Apostles who planted churches, but continued to work in the congregations that were formed. It tells us of Priscilla and Aquila, Lydia, Dorcas, Cornelius, Stephen, Phillip, and so many others who are examples to us. Others who are not like Ananias and Sapphira (who sinned, not in withholding some of the money from the sales, they were entitled to give whatever they saw fit, but because they withheld but still sought to make everyone believe that they were generous enough to give everything, and were willing to live that lie), Mark who abandoned Paul and Barnabas, but clearly later had repented and proven faithful. It tells us of the amazing work the Apostles did, but also how God worked through so many others and their loyalty to God's Word and each other.

"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer....Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, prainsing God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:42, 46-47.

When the seven deacons were chosen to help administer charity to the widows IN THE CHURCH, the Disciples chose godly men, and the congregation approved them (men who still shared God's Word with those who have not heard, aside from their task of caring for those in need. We see that with Phillip and the Ethiopian eunoch, and with Stephen, when he shared God's Word and was martyred for it) to help do this work because they needed "to be devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word." Not only to evangelism, but to their role in adminstering the Word. This doesn't say that their work was only to bring in non-believers, in fact, Scripture shows us that this is not the case. It shows us that as people mature in the faith, people who are not pastors can share God's Word and help care for the poor and needy in our congregations and outside of it.

When you look at Paul's Epistles, they are not about those who do not have faith. They are to The Church. They re-emphasize that we are saved by grace through faith, and then they are also about how after this, we are to guard doctrine, care for each other, and relate to the world.

In Paul's letters to Timothy, a young man that he placed as a pastor in Ephesus, there really is nothing in either one about evangelism. There is a heck of a lot there about what makes a good pastor, how women are to behave, how widows in the church are to be cared for, how we are to pray, how to choose those who serve in the church, and encouragement for when times become tough. In effect, how to manage the congregation and teach them to be godly. Titus, a letter to another pastor that Paul placed in the church at Corinth, while much shorter, is full of the exact same thing.

The Bible shows us that it really is about those who are already sitting in the pews.

Steve Benke, lead pastor of Jefferson Hills Church wrote this on his blog:

I've been a pastor for 18 years. But I've only been releasing people and equipping people for ministry for 5 years. There's no question about which one works better. I only wish I had had the courage to break out of the traditional pastor's role that I was handed a whole lot earlier. Here's why.

This Sunday we are holding a baptism event that will be the grand finale of a message series on baptism called H2O. The series put the simple and radical truth in front of people about what it means to be baptized in Jesus' name. The way that the series is equipping people to "bring people to the water", we already have 9 baptisms planned for Sunday. That doesn't even count who our people might bring on Sunday, whom the Holy Spirit might reach on the spot!

Now the average church in America doesn't baptize a new adult convert per year. I can't help but wonder how much of the problem is that too many churches are still trying to do ministry the way I was trained to do it; all by myself. Look what happens when we pastors get out of the way, and equip followers of Jesus to bring people to baptism.

He goes on to talk about how they challenged people at Jefferson Hills Church not to just go to church, but to Be The Church.

I see a couple of errors in this. First of all, if he thinks the old model of the pastor is supposed to be "doing it all by himself," I think he ought to know, he's had it wrong all along. The pastor does Word and Sacrament ministry...he preaches, catechizes, hears confession and gives absolution, and ministers to his flock....but EVERYONE in the church is called to love each other and minister to each other and to be ready to share the hope that they have, which IS Christ Jesus, when they are called upon to do so.

Whether you are off the chart contemporary or as high church liturgical as it gets, it is still every person in The Church's job to show God's love to each other and to the world.

This pastor is not being more effective because he has redefined roles and is breaking boundaries or doing anything new. In reality, while he is encouraging them to do the job they should be doing as saved Children of God, he is doing so at the expense of meeting the needs that he should be meeting as their pastor. As each sheep comes into his fold, he is looking for the next one, rather than focusing on feeding the ones God has put in His flock. There is such a strong emphasis on what they should be doing in order to be fulfilled Christians (attending small groups, tithing, participating in community events, evangelizing), how clearly are they hearing "your sins are forgiven you," how often are they receiving Christ's body and blood? How prepared are these adults for knowing what it means to become part of the Body of Christ through their baptism, or what you are supposed to be preaching, teaching, and confessing as Lutheran pastors? Why is becoming a member of Jefferson Hills Church about a pledge to attend small groups, tithe, and do community service, and not a confession of faith in the death and resurrection of Christ?

So in case you are wondering, it IS about you, the dear child, the little lamb whom God loved so much that He gave His Son for you, whom the Holy Spirit caused to believe and trust in Him however long ago. You were the lamb that the shepherd left the 99 for and went to retrieve and rejoices over. You are the child that He wants on His knee. And you are still a holy, precious treasure. Don't let any pastor tell you any differently. If he does, he is wrong.

It is about you. And you have received such a precious gift that you surely would want everyone else to know God's love. So whether you are talking openly about your faith or whether you are interacting with someone at your work or in your neighborhood, treat others with the love that God is constantly showing to you, and that God has for all people. That's how it really works. He can love them and want them to come to faith and still love you and want you to grow in the faith, to receive His forgiveness, His body and blood, and His Word through His undershepherds at the same time.

Rethinking Homeschooling

One of the great dilemmas with homeschooling is how much do you conform to the traditional idea of school? Do you use textbooks, unit studies, or life opportunities? Have a set time of day for lessons? Subscribe to a more structured idea of education or a less structured idea of education? Do you follow a nine month school year or wing it?

I've been in the process or rethinking the nine month model. I really didn't subscribe to it before we moved to Indiana, though Chris and I did start "schooling" on the traditional first day of the school year, Tuesday after Labor Day, by reading stories in our hammock in our backyard, and drawing snails that were in our flower bed. Here it seemed more important than in California, because at least at first, Chris's main friends who lived near the church went to school, and it was wierd having them knock on the door for Chris to play, and he was still doing Math.

I've gone to more of a "when you are done with the book, you are done with the subject" on things like Math, copywork, and such. But I've really been looking at what our cycle of life is like, and realizing that there really is no point in trying to fight it.

We have never been able to start lessons before October 1st since we've lived here. This is the first year Chris hasn't participated in 4-H, and I've considered what he learns in those to be just as important as anything he can learn with a textbook. After all, showing and breeding rabbits has covered science(reproduction), economics, animal husbandry, competitoin, and so many other things. Other topics that he has done, whether he has shown or not have been important as well.

Also, in September so many other things are happening. My parents have a summer place in Michigan, and they are getting ready to leave and it is the last opportunity to enjoy the lake up there. My inlaws often come out to visit then as well. Scouts, choir, and confirmation have all started up and so that is all quite an adjustment even without lessons starting up as well. There is also another side-benefit to starting is easier to get curriculum when you need it. I know tons of people who are trying to get their curriculum in August and September who have to wait six weeks to get it. I usually don't.

After Thanksgiving, we usually get so focused on doing stuff for the Cookie Walk and Advent that we end up taking a week off and don't get back to it through all of December and then have a renewed emphasis in January. But February is a waste. Everyone feels a lag in February here, no matter what they do, and there is no point in fighting it. It is really hard. So we start planning our gardens, taking a break, and looking for signs of Spring that won't come for another two months.

March is okay again and usually so is April. May is so nice that it is impossible to not go out. Baseball practice is starting, choir is ending, and so many other things are happening that our efforts are outside. And these things are just as important as books. Time in nature, working the soil and planting things, sports, etc. are terribly important...they are what brings joy to life, really. Tell me that is not important. And besides, I remember school in May. You can say "this many classroom hours are needed in order to get things done" but any teacher worth their salt (and I am related to several) will tell you that getting things done in May is an exercise in frustration.

So I am thinking that focusing on these things in May and June is good (as well as VBS, 4-H with Maggie, and swimming , fishing, camping, and such). Then, in July and August, when many days are just miserably hot, then we can return to the books and finish up and return to taking September off again.

In reality, I am just giving myself permission to do what we already do, and we do get things done and the kids end up being where they should be, or ahead in most things. And the things they struggle with, well, time off is a good thing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


For those of you seriously concerned about my dreadful couch situation, it has been solved. I knew something was missing in the process. Basically, what was required to solve it all was for me to have a temper tantrum.

Jeff and I went shopping yesterday at lunch, and found four or five sofas just across the street that I would be perfectly happy with. With each one, there was something that he couldn't bring himself to embrace (the microfiber sectional was just a little too wierd feeling, the other one was too expensive, the other one didn't support his back, the other one was just a bit too short to be able to nap on....)

So then I vented my frustration regarding the fact that he actually had an opinion on it at all (and in reality, I am very happy that he has an opinion on it, even if it makes my life harder) and then I went clothes shopping, where I found a couple of cute outfits that I was definitely due and needed for work and life. Feeling somewhat better for some reason, I stopped into Klopfensteins by my favorite sushi place (oh man, I'm jonesing for sushi..but I resisted). I really didn't expect to find anything that would work(though there was lots that was really nice that certainly pleased me. But like Elephant's Child pointed out, I have two kids and a big dog. And that dog occasionally thinks he should be allowed the same privileges as the child before I put him aright. The dusty rose plaid/floral Broyhill pattern probably would have put me into a coma if it were permanently ruined by a muddy dog print.)
But then I walked toward the back. And there it was. And it possessed EVERY SINGLE TRAIT that we have ever wanted in a sofa. It wasn't microfiber. I was happy about that (the more I read about it, the more I read that static is a HUGE issue. People have had ruined laptops computers, etc. from them). It was comfortable and had good back support. Amazingly, it was all that, and a sleeper sofa. It is a medium brown and is soft and comfy. It also has a matching snuggler (smaller than a love seat, bigger than a chair) that also has a sleeper bed in it (when we lived in California, Jeff really just wanted to get a snuggler and forget that we might at sometime or another actually have to seat guests). And it has a matching oversized storage ottoman. And all within our price range (and really a price I would've expected to find at a factory outlet). I brought Jeff in today and he really liked it. Chris sat on it, and the 2nd most opinionated male in the household's first words regarding it were "its comfy." Then he and his friend Jonathan spent the rest of the time sitting on it playing Mad Libs while we finalized the details.

This picture is from my phone, so I will have to say, the color is better than this. and it is bigger than it looks (here it looks no bigger than a loveseat, but my 6 foot tall hubby can lay down on it). Unfortunately, it doesn't come with the leopard print throw blanket....darn. Needless to say, Maggie is tired of furniture shopping.

So, I got my couch, AND increased the bed capacity at the Horn Hilton. It gets delivered next Friday. The snuggler will soon follow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Baseball Skills

Okay, this series cracks me up. It goes against my very nature to post the one with the Cub pitcher, rather than the two episodes with Dodger players, but it is absolutely hilarious.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Some Thoughts on Ablaze

(in a discussion on Augsburg 1530, a person clarified that Ablaze wasn't a program, it was a movement designed to inspire Lutheran congregations to be on fire for sharing God's word, and invited us to embrace it. I took long enough typing this that I rationalized that it should be posted here, too (because it took as long as a blogpost does. After all, time is precious! I am simply trying to be efficient, not in the least trying to be lazy. I know you all will appreciate that, right? )

I am already part of a movement. I really trust this movement and think that it has done a very good job and it has one of the best and strongest traditions in existence.

It began when Jesus ascended into Heaven saying “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

It matured on Pentecost, when tongues of fire descended onto the heads of the disciples and they preached God’s Word to the masses, and the people who believed came together into congregations to learn God’s Word, to baptize, and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

I thank God that my parents were part of that movement, bringing me to the font when I was just a couple of weeks old, and I thank God for pastors and teachers who have been true to the Great Commission along the way, not seeing it as just as a command to the unchurched that stops when we have cast the seed. They also took the “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” seriously as well, seeing it as a lifelong nurturing process, and I am also part of that -- in teaching my children, strengthening my brethren, and being ready to account for the hope that I have when I am called upon to do so.

It is a movement that has lasted for over 2000 years now and it is still going strong. It is not based on statistics or gatherings, or techniques, or evangelical revival (which is what it sounds like you are hoping for). It is based on Scripture, vocation, and the life of the Church. It is based on how those who are a part of the body of Christ interact with the world.

It is also based on “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” In Acts, Luke didn’t bother marking a “1″ by Phillip’s name when he proclaimed the gospel to the Ethiopian eunoch. Luke told the story of this man’s faith and his desire to be baptized. Paul didn’t mark down “30″ after a good night in Galatia. Instead, we are told what he said and the work that he did. Later, his letter to them tells us of the challenges that the church faced as it was under attack. It was real. It was not accounting.

It is not about how many times we share the gospel, it is that we do it when we are put in a place to do so. It is that we know what a precious gift Christ gave us in His Word and Sacraments. It is that we teach our children so that they walk in the faith and teach their children. Those who are already in the Church are very undervalued in Ablaze. Their continued strengthening in the faith is not talked about.

I will take Jesus’s movement, the Holy Spirit’s movement of saving each individual soul…of going after each little lost lamb one at a time, over Ablaze’s way of taking that and making it fit into the mold of today’s consumer culture and gauging success by quantity.

While I am not undervaluing the joy and the “combustion” of the excitement that happens when one discovers the gospel (I remember that, too). “Ablaze” is not what comes to mind when I witness how the Gospel is working in the lives of the strongest Christians that I know and admire. Loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, good, kind, faithful, gentle (humble), and self-controlled…really are what comes to mind. The fruits of the Spirit are clearly within them, and sometimes I am astounded to find that those fruits are stronger in me than I ever expected them to be. Strong Christians are not often “on fire” in the colloquial sense, but they share the love of Christ through their daily vocation, and it seems to smolder there within them…and the work that they do does not need “fanned into flames” it touches other’s lives and gives them warmth.

I don’t want to just see people come to Christ and experience that joy…I want to see them grow and partake of the meat of the faith, to have strength for when the fire doesn’t seem to burn (but is) and to have the strength to endure the suffering that Christ has promised. The count is not taken when the gospel is proclaimed or the seed is cast onto the field, it is taken when the names are read from the Lamb’s Book of Life and the harvest is brought in.

A Beautiful Day

A member brought over his John Deere a couple of weeks ago and made this nice garden for me. The soil was beautiful and fluffy. We then set up stakes and string and made 9 raised beds (mulch in the aisles and maybe even wood borders will come later). I'm so happy. I just hope I don't kill everything (I did get soaker hoses this time, and a long enough hose to get to the garden. This desert girl has come to the conclusion that God doesn't water here ALL the time, He wants me to do it sometimes as well. sigh. Now I miss sprinkler systems)

We are doing concentrated beds. Rather than rows, we are planting things close together and kind of jumbled based on the sphere they take up...there's no reason why you can't put an onion, which grows underground, next to a head of lettuce, for instance, which grows above. I also am trying out the concept of companion planting...planting things that are supposedly good for each other or repel bugs next to each other (the flowers are marigolds...they repel bugs. As the summer goes on, I'll add other things that will help also.) It has been an interesting process and has appealed to the perfectionist in me (which usually means nothing gets done because it is too involved). But I am excited for the Brussels sprouts, cabbages (way too many cabbages), peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cukes, and name a few things. The row closest to us has corn and sunflower seeds just planted. When those get a little taller, I will grow beans to climb up the stalks, and also some pumpkins in that bed (but they won't climb up the stalks). Next year, I think I'll have a hedge for berries and currants (I love currants). We added most of the herbs today (still need to find rosemary and maybe some more herb seeds so that I can have more of the ones I love and not go completely broke..oh well, I have all summer). Thankfully, we got them in before the 20 minute storm went through (Weather Channel said all evening!).

The kids have been having fun with it, too. Chris has been a HUGE help, and Maggie planted a lot of the marigolds, and some of the onions before running off with the loitering younger siblings of budding soccer players (it was practice time).

After the storm was past (or would that be passed?) and was busy causing tornadoes just over the Ohio border, it left us the most beautiful full double rainbow across the entire eastern sky. It didn't photograph well...but my honey did.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Just to Save Time

Every once in a while, this list makes the rounds. I love it. It is called "The Bitter Homeschooler's List" and it really is what we all WANT to say when we are asked all the questions we homeschool moms are often asked about homeschooling.

Now, I don't mean questions from those who are genuinely interested or even vaguely curious, we love those. But the ones who say "Oh, I could never do that!" (really, its generally not that hard, but maybe you couldn't, sometimes I still wonder about me); or say "you must have a lot of patience" (ask my kids, I really don't); or question our ability to teach our children tasks that we have mastered and have been doing on a daily basis quite well for 20-30 years now (or more, ahem), things such as adding or putting basic sounds together to make words.

This one is my favorite:

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

Though #20 really strikes a chord as well. :)

Monday, June 02, 2008

My Dilemma

Thanks to Uncle Sam we are getting a new sofa and a chair or two for the living room. This will be the first one since the futon we got mail order from Spiegel after vicarage. Ever since then, it seems like when I couldn't take it anymore, there was always someone going "Hey guys, do you need a couch?"

The couch we have now, which I got from a friend in a trade, has been a good couch. It had already been eight years old, and soon after we got it, the seams started showing some strain and now things look pretty bad. So I am very eager for it to be gone.

But I have had a hard time finding what I really want (for the price that I really want it, anyway). I can find something that looks good, but it is uncomfortable. I kind of like the new mini-sectionals, with the chaise on one side, but I fear that will be trendy and not as useful as even a regular couch. All in all, I feel like I've sat in hundreds of sofas, and haven't been able to find one that I really like.

While doing regular shopping at Sam's Club, not really looking for much, I sat down on the nearest couch to rest my feet. Oh my gosh. It was the most comfortable piece of furniture I had ever sat on. My back felt supported, the material was soft. The arm was at just the right height. To top it off, it was a recliner couch, so when I gave into temptation and pulled the lever, I was practically in heaven. Jeff even came over and we tested its cuddle factor. As far as comfort goes, this couch was a masterpiece.

There's one problem. Its ugly. It's appearance doesn't appeal to me in the least. It is everything I did not want. It is a chocolate brown microfiber overstuffed number. It's very modern. I'm just not a modern furniture person. (it looks closest to this, but just chocolate brown instead). I really was kind of going for a "feel of the ocean" type thing. This makes me think of fudge, potting soil, I don't know what else.....(hubby and kids have given it the complete thumbs up)

This is really more my style....

But I can't escape from the fact that the brown beast is astoundingly comfortable. I am really struggling with my internal lazy hedonist. The recliner that comes with it is also a glider, and it is mega-cozy too.

The dang thing Is a Lane, too. It'll probably outlast me. Though I have to admit, it is the kind of sofa that might be able to be moved to a nice cozy den in a few years and be just fine in there....

So, what do you think?? (Jane?????)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Come to Church, Get a Toaster?

Pastor Brown over at Confessional Gadfly has a good post on how losing our focus on what worship really and truly is causes us to jump into the morass of constantly changing things in order to please people, or to grow dissatisfied with church and start minimizing our need (and our duty as Pr. Hall points out in the comments as well) to be there and receive the gifts God has for us.