Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm Moving

I've been rather torn about what to do with my blog. I haven't been comfortable with this template for a long time, but as it was the only cat I was allowed to have...I couldn't abandon my blog cat. But at the same time I figured I couldn't abandon him either.

But we have cats now. Two of 'em. Cutest little devils....and I do mean devils. And so even though my kids wouldn't let me name either one of them Brixius Northanus, like my blog cat, I no longer feel like he is necessary.

I have also been kind of trying to figure out what to do about my food blog. My journey through food and health is so much a part of me, I don't feel like separating it out, but I feel limited here.

So I'm moving to Word Press. All of my posts are going with me, so no fear! I just have to decide when and where to spend the time to get the template up to speed.

But here is the new addy:

Hope to see you there. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I am for Umpires

Fort Wayne Daisies player, Marie Wegman, of th...Image by State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr

Much misery has arisen this playoff season due to inept umpires. I haven't taken the time to see if the same umpire is responsible for some of the frustration from the Twins/Tigers series and the Angels/Yankees series or the Dodgers/Phillies series, but it certainly has plagued all three series. In the Dodger/Phillies game the other night, but teams suffered due to the home plate umpire's radically inconsistent strike zone. Bad umpiring is a difficult thing, because it causes a team to lose hope that their best efforts will still not be good enough.

When this happens, there is always a call for allowing replays in baseball. But despite how much bad calls can disrupt a game, I'm against them.

Baseball is different than most sports. It isn't a simple linear game, or a game regulated by the clock. It is our nation's pasttime, and it encompasses a different spirit than football, which is far more warlike, and basketball, which is, well...I don't know what basketball is.

Baseball is a game of traditions, symbolism, and meaning. It is a where one man, part of a team, goes against another man, also a part of a team. He might completely defeat that man in their battle (home run), or he might get on base through his own skill (a hit), or through the pitcher's inadequacy, or even strategy in deflecting the challenge (walk). The homerun might be his alone, or through his victory, he might be bringing other men home as well, but in the end, his sole victory contributes to the more important victory of the team. How American can that be? One's individual accomplishments combine to bring about the victory or loss of the team. You stand alone, but you are wearing the uniform of the team, your accomplishments are credited to the team, and your well-being is tied to the team. You don't race to the finish line or the goal across the field, directly ahead of you, you run in a circle (or almost a circle) and numerous things want to keep you from progressing your way around until you are safe at home again.

In the midst of that, you have superstitions, preparations, comradery, infighting, etc., that always lend themselves to victories or losses. You even have weather go against you (rainouts). Even rally towels, lights, and noise can be attributed to your downfall, or your enemies.

The umpire is a huge part of this dance. He is there to make sure things are fair, but he isn't always on the ball. He is limited by his own abilities. And that is reflective of life as well. We don't have instant replays in life, and baseball is honestly a microscosm of American life in so many ways.

And so can men in authority who can make mistakes. Accidental or purposeful misjustices happen. And they are probably more rare than we would like to life and in baseball. But when they do happen, they sting, and they sting hard. And the only answer to it in the game is to have been so much better that bad calls would not have made a difference. But at times, they do. And that's life.

And really, would you want baseball without the arguments with the umpires, the managers getting called out, the force of authority to focus all aggression on? That's part of life, too.

As a mom, sometimes I know that too often, parenting my kids is like calling balls and strikes. Sometimes it is clear, others it is not, and I have to go with what my eyes see, and sometimes I make bad calls (or good calls believed to be bad), and I feel the weight of claims of injustice and scorn, as do cops who are handing out tickets, pastors who are keeping unrepentant sinners from the communion rail, and politicians. The umpire and his ability to make a bad call and to have it remain a bad call on balls and strikes is really another aspect of how baseball is a reflection of life. Taking away the ability of the umpire to be wrong though and still hold on to his authority, denies a part of the life that baseball symbolizes. The life that all of us civilians live (since most linear sports are more like war), the metaphor of the plight of the working man.

And in baseball, the umpires often have the hardest lives -- like the street cop or the line manager, or the school hall monitor. He doesn't make much, comparatively, yet he has authority and insists on respect. He travels even more than the baseball players....and deals with everyone hating him....because he loves the game and knows he adds to it. I think that should continue to be respected, and the umpires should be allowed to have their balls and strikes to themselves. They should lose their jobs if they are truly bad at it, but there is no arguing balls and strikes -- and the camera shouldn't argue them either.

The umpire has bad days. And some will say that there is more at stake than should be allowed to rest on the shoulders of a man having a bad day. But in the end, that's life as well. My kids "suffer" from my inadequacies when I am not on my game as much as other days. Cops are more fair some days than others, teachers have bad days, and kids might be at the other end of their crankiness. But we need to keep in perspective. What is beautiful about the umpire, the baseball game, while bets are lost, hearts break, dreams are really is just a game, and the anxiety and grief produced by a bad call really have less ramifications than in almost any other sphere.

And that, is what I love about baseball. In the end, there is kind of a joy in being able to have catharsis over the playing out of the tragedies and joys of life in a game, rather than through the realities of life. My team is out of it, and partly due to the fault of an umpire who, at least three nights ago, was appallingly inept. But there is always next season.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Forgiving Each Other

Deaconess Emily Carder has a beautiful post called "Listening to Children" about forgiveness at her blog Quicunque Vult. Not just about children...but what it means to forgive each other as husband and wife. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Health Issues

Doctors exhaust me.

I've had several years experience going to doctors (GP's OB/GYNs, endocrinologists, and reproductive endocrinologists) telling them about clear symptoms that I was having, only to be told "your blood tests are normal" and to be sent away. Despite having unexplained weight gain, difficult periods, acne, difficulty getting pregnant, three miscarriages, acanthosis negricans (darkening under skin folds like armpits, thighs, and under my breasts); it took four doctors before I got my diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, because I finally found a doctor that treated the symptoms, rather than the test range (which I was very close on) and who was the first to know that fasting insulin numbers should be less than 10 in a female, not 18 - as the test range stated.

When I was pregnant with Maggie, one of the meds I was on was a low dose of thyroid hormone. Despite feeling constantly nauseous and dehydrated, mentally, I couldn't remember feeling so clear-headed and like things were good. I was taken off the thyroid hormone a few weeks before she was born, and after she was born, descended into postpartum depression. It never occurred to me that the two were related.

When she was a year and 1/2, I did test positive for anti-thyroid antibodies, but since then, have not, but still have felt terrible. I've really stopped responding to my PCOS meds, and feeling so bad, starting a low carb diet AND feeding three others was just more than I can bear.Since our move, I've gone to three doctors, who all have told me that I test normal on the TSH test, and I might want to consider anti-depressants, ADHD meds, and/or gastric bypass, all of which my gut told me were not the problem. I tried calling a highly recommended endocrinologist off of Mary Shomon's thyroid site, (a site I HIGHLY recommend) but couldn't ever get a person to call me back. That was three years ago.

Now in the present, things just kept getting worse. I kept gaining weight, my skin is worse than it has ever been, I look awful, I feel worse. Finally, I tried the endocrinologist again and got a person, and better yet, an appointment. But still, I feared being told that my tests were normal (interpretation: its all in your head.) Dr. Kadambi didn't do that. He listened to the symptoms and immediately prescribed natural thyroid hormone for me. He ran all the blood tests, but wasn't going to make me wait. My symptoms were very descriptive of hypothyroid. He also added Byetta, an insulin helper drug, to my PCOS meds, and promised it would help me lose weight. (12 pounds in the first month, but slow since then).

The blood tests came back, and the thyroid hormone was normal. But next to the range, it said "may not be normal for this patient." Lots of the results said that. He also found a few other things that were not in range. My vitamin D was low, my B12 was low, and so was my Insulin-Like Growth Hormone. He said that would mean a pituitary stimulus test.

I learned that basically, IGH controls all the other endocrine glands, and there was a possibility I was not making much, since I seem to be having problems with several of my endocrine glands. As I sat there with the I.V. in my arm being stimulated, I saw the diagram on the board that listed the symptoms of Insufficient Growth Hormone....and it was describing me -- difficulty losing weight, social anxiety and isolation, problems with fertility and reproductive cycles, insulin resistance, etc.

The test came back with no change. My pituitary pretty much refused to be stimulated, so the next step was to convince my insurance that I needed it, and Eli Lilly took care of that. I got a letter in the mail last night saying that the growth hormone therapy was approved. Dr. Kadambi says that if this works, and he had no doubt that it would, I should be off most everything within a year. The Byetta and the metformin will be unnecessary should I lose enough weight to defeat the insulin resistance, and my pituitary should kick back in. I don't know if that includes the thyroid hormone as well.

I'm eager to see how this goes....and whether or not it will improve my baseball game (just joking). Its nice to be heard. Its nice to have a doctor that is eager to find the answers to the problem. It's definitely nice to feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tempers and Tennis

Something that I am hearing over the last day is that the reaction to Serena's "losing her temper" in the match recently is racism, especially when compared to the reaction to John MacEnroe in the late 70's, early 80's.

I think rather than screaming "racism" we need to look at the fact that the very nature of the media is different now. News and sports are covered 24 hours a day by competitive cable stations, and honestly, there isn't enough news to justify that, so they have to sensationalize. They create drama where there really is very little in order to keep you watching the same way you would stare at a tabloid in the checkout line. If T.O. says something stupid (and really, who is surprised about that?), then it has to be analyzed from all sorts of angles and shock needs to be created. If Brett Favre hasn't decided yet again whether or not he's playing -- its not news if they just report -- "Brett Favre, same deal as last year. let you know what he decides next month." There has to be a "Favre watch" with suspense from every angle as to whether or not he'll sign with this team or that team, an analysis about how the Packers feel about that, etc.

And here's the not so secret: they are hoping things like this happen, and they don't care what athlete does it....because they have to fill hours and hours of discussion for the next week on their syndicated radio shows, and fill up an hour of Sports Center. They don't want you to tune in to check the score of your favorite team and then mosey over to the Food Network.

Are African-American athletes overrepresented in these stories (Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, T.O., Michael Vick, Shaq, Kobe, etc.)? Yes they are. But only because a lot of really exceptional athletes are African-American.

It wasn't like this when MacEnroe was playing. Sports got five minutes in the local half hour newscast, so at BEST, he would get 2 1/2 minutes for a really good tirade. But those who don't remember how vilified he was for his lack of self-control are kidding themselves, and choosing to remember how much fun it was to watch the temper tantrums. But he was held up as a perfect example of bad sportsmanship, whether he was right or not. His outbursts were even worse when you consider that tennis was just one of those games where etiquette and restraint reigned supreme. But people liked watching him because he was rather creative in his expressions...but he was not respected for them. In many ways, like with T.O., Barry Bonds, and Brett Favre -- we were waiting to see when he'd self-destruct and finally completely lose it. People enjoy a good tragedy -- "he was so talented, but no common sense. " MacEnroe didn't earn respect until after he left the game and grew up.

Serena's getting more heat for protesting and walking off the court than she deserves (barring whether or not she actually threatened the official). It was a shock because she is always so professional. Everyone has a bad day. Unfortunately, the camera was on. When you reap so much from good press...its reasonable (though not fair) that you expect a little heat when you have a bad day, too.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Legislating Morality

I am always amused/annoyed whenever I hear the phrase "You can't legislate morality." That statement is one of the biggest lies around for one reason:

Laws define what is right and wrong for a society.

When a law is made, so is a moral judgment. Murder is wrong. Theft is wrong. Fraud is wrong. Driving while intoxicated is wrong...etc. Society has determined these are not right and has passed laws that proclaim this and also how the society will deal with those who break these laws. Even my town's proclamations about no dogs in the park is a judgment about whether or not dogs' activities in the park mesh with other people's activities in the park (more probably, its a moral judgment saying "people have been jerks with their dogs in the park).

Also, take a look at our Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights. It declares that certain freedoms are good. The right to free speech, for worship, to assemble, to bear arms, to not be forced to incriminate oneself -- these are protected under the highest laws of our land because our forefathers agreed these were GOOD (a moral judgment). Our laws even proclaim these rights are above the rights of the government.

When I was a teenager, there was a huge push for tougher drunk driving laws. Whether or not these laws reflected society's increasing concern regarding the dangers of drunk driving, or whether the tougher laws inspired the feelings of the people, it is difficult to tell. Probably both. We are seeing the same process with the "Don't Text and Drive" campaigns now. (God help us that we even need this!)

More people were against abortion when a woman's right to have one was proclaimed by the Supreme Court than years later. Because it is legal, it has become more accepted. Even people who state that they believe its murder often maintain that a woman has a right to do it -- which in and of itself is a contradiction. Under certain circumstances, one person may have the right to take the life of another human being, but murder is when someone takes the life of another person with malice and without having the right to do so.

Morality is legislated all the time. In fact, Aristotle (I believe) stated that the application of morality to an individual is called "Ethics." The application of morality for the good of society is called "Politics." I paraphrase, because I can't find the quote.

You cannot separate law and morality. They are intertwined. And you CAN legislate morality. Except for some administrative laws, legislating is when a governing body making a moral judgment. Really, you can't NOT legislate morality, if you are legislating at all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spiritual Warfare

My friend Lulu has a powerful post up about spiritual warfare.

She is right. We Lutherans often do not acknowledge the reality of spiritual warfare in our lives. We confess "the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh," but often what we see is "the world and our sinful flesh." Satan likes it that way. He doesn't care that we acknowledge his existence, as long as we are fooled by the lies that he tells. As a matter of fact, it often suits him just fine that we don't actually SEE him doing his work.

But he does work, terribly hard. And he loves to draw us away from the Word. It doesn't matter whether it is just introducing little ideas that create doubt or cause pride, or pander to our Old Adam's desire to just jump right into sin and wallow in it.

We like to enjoy mythological stories in our house. In fact, we are reading Homer's "The Odyssey" right now. We think those stories are just interesting stories...but Satan worked through those stories, he did magic that made those gods real to the people in Greece. He encouraged witchcraft, debauchery, and devotion to different gods. I'm sure people really saw nymphs and fawns and such....demons can do that, you know. Justin Martyr writes of the reality of demons behind the false gods, and the Early Church took the satanic influence behind them as a reality.

But for pagans today -- witches, animists, nature worshippers Satanists, and others of the occult . are in Satan's grasp...and Satan does not hide from them. He presents himself as an ally to their cause, lures them with a tiny bit of his power and holds on...sometimes feeling free to be cruel and torturing because he knows that he has them.

But Jesus has defeated Satan, and as much as Satan tries, Christ is victorious. But we need to not be scared of that, and we need to know that he is real, and the Church needs to be a place of comfort and power for those that are fleeing him. Because Satan will try to get them back, and he does. Her call for us to be aware of this, because there are more and more entering the occult constantly -- and there will be those who need Christ and His Church.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Apologies to Most of You

I just went through and cleaned out my Bloglines. With my vacation, I had over 2000 posts to read, not to mention how I have been falling behind anyway. So if you mention you wrote about something and I look at you with glazed eyes, it isn't because I don't love's because I just couldn't do it. I'm starting fresh.

Write away!
Brenda Chryst posted this one the role of pastors wife while I was on vacation. I think she makes some very valid points about how we reflect on our husbands, for better or worse, and is pretty blunt about what place the pastor's wife has in it. From my 12 years experience, she's right on.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Garden Thoughts

Since I got back from California, the garden has been keeping me busy. When I left, I was not sure anything but the squash was ever going to go ripe, but heat and rain did their magic, and my itty bitty tomato plants, sunflowers, beans, etc. are huge and burgeoning. Along with them, so are the weeds. I weeded the beds right before I left but they were a mess when I got back...correction ARE a mess.

I doubt that I'll come close to recouping the cost of the garden this year. We've had some lettuce, some squash, and will have some tomatoes and other things...but it has been a mild supplement to our diet, and not a huge one, even though its a big one.

But I have learned a ton. I've learned about how to do it next y

Powdery mildew, a Biotrophic FungusImage via Wikipedia

ear, I've learned about heirloom seeds and their benefits over hybrids. I've learned even more about companion planting and that the powdery mildew that is killing my squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers (please God, not the watermelons!) and did so last year as well is caused by heat and humidity (and cucumber bugs that carry it from plant to plant), and that I need to start spraying neem oil or another antifungal BEFORE it starts.

I also think I am figuring out how to plan it all so that I can get it more productive next year...and hopefully how to do subsequent plantings until so we can eat certain things all through the season.

And I'm having fun. A ton of fun. That is definitely worth something.
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Saturday, August 08, 2009

What it Really Boils Down To

I'm in limbo....nothing else to say about it.

A few months ago, I started a blog over at Wordpress, and I kind of like it. I can occasionally post one of my hubby's sermons there if I want to, and I like the look -- its clean and crisp.

But I LIKE Blogger, too. I especially like my cat. He's a copyrighted Blogger skin, though, so he can't go with me, and I feel guilty for abandoning him. (I know...I used to have a hard time getting rid of stuffed animals, too. I was afraid I'd hurt their feelings).

So...what say you? I'm going to have you decide. The other blog is I'd like to do a food one, too, since I keep getting further and further into the Nourishing Traditions/locovore type stuff. I can't decide whether that should be seperate or worked into one site. So just take the poll on the side please :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oh Brave New World....

In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, there is an interesting little character dynamic that he sets up in his main character, Bernard. Bernard is supposed to be the cream of the crop, an Alpha -- intelligent, handsome, genetically designed to be the best. However, something bizarre happened in all of that, and while intelligent, Bernard is far from handsome. This mistake leaves him always aware that he is different, and kind of on the outside looking in. He notices idiosyncracies in the structured society that most don't.

As a homeschooler, sometimes I feel the same way. I notice things about how the culture of school is woven through our society as a whole that others don't, because I am on the outside. I notice it as a homeschooler in a family of teachers. Family dinners where lesson plans, school field trips, and standardized testing schedules are discussed are the norm when we are visiting. Living in a small town, especially a small town that I am not FROM, makes it clear as well.

A lot of the books that we have been reading lately - Anne of Green Gables, Little House, and also a book on the works of John Dewey -- have left me with a singular thought:

The direction our country is going and the attitudes about fairness might very well be shaped by the fact that everyone is raised in a school system based on grade levels.

In a one room school, where children entered school at different times, had to leave at different times (harvest, etc.), children were taught according to a set of primers. The teacher examined them to see where they would need to start, and then the child would start with that book, rather than the proper book for the child's age. The students were grouped according to those who were in the 1st reader, 2nd reader, 3rd reader, and so on, not by age. This generally put kids together in the classroom who were around the same age, but not necessarily. Socially, kids often grouped together according to general age, but not within the strict limits of one year of age.

If the child worked hard and showed that he knew the material, he could move forward to the next book, when he he was ready. If the child struggled, then the child could take all the time needed to master that skill, and moved on when the child showed proficiency. But -- because it was based on this, not being able to master a particular subject did NOT hold the child back in any others. The child could theoretically be in the 3rd math book but in the 5th reader.

The emphasis for this type of system is on the individual's accomplishments within a set standard. Really, the epitome of the American dream...focused on the individual being able to accomplish to their ability and opportunity within the group.

In a graded school, children are given work and activity that is considered appropriate for their age. All children whose birthdays are within a year of each other are deemed capable of performing the same work according to the same standard. Because everyone is using the same curriculum, a pace needs to be kept, so some excel -- some fall behind, but all are pretty much limited to the same courseload. Only those that REALLY excel beyond all practicality are moved up into a higher grade, where they are completely surrounded by older kids. Those that REALLY fall behind are kept back, where they are completely surrounded by younger kids. So the reality is the "problem" kids in the classroom are the ones who are so smart they are bored, or unable to keep up because of laziness, developmental disability, lack of interest, a homelife not conducive to homework, etc. The ones who aren't able to keep up are given assistance. They don't know what to do with the bright - bored ones. And as far as the kids go, both the bright ones and the ones who can't keep up are the ones who are picked on.

But those are the exceptions and so mainly, everyone does the same thing to the same standard.

For this century, really the social issue has been entitlement and fairness. Do you earn your merits, or is everyone entitled to a certain baseline of benefits in this country. Is it okay to be rich, successful? Or is that a system where the success of one person's success holds others back (sounds like grading on the curve). In previous generations, the ideal was that everyone had the ability to reach as far as their ability and hard work would take them, without giving a lot of lip service to the fact that we don't all start out in the same place. Now, the emphasis is on creating a level playing field....much the way a classroom is set up to be. Those who excel and get rich are considered evil, and the ones who fail are also...with the exception that they are still given help.

I'm sorry if this seems rambling, but really I'm just working through ideas. More may be coming...

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Day's Storms

Photos were requested from some of my Nevada friends -- greenery and flooding. I can't blame them. I can't get used to the vibrant greens here, having eyes that grew up with browns. They flow through the whole spectrum from kelly green all the way to forest green.

I've probably said this before, but storms in the Midwest are nothing like storms in the West. Back in Vegas, the clouds would spend all day atop the mountains until they got enough ummph to move over them. The lightning storms were beautiful, but the clouds were high. Here, the thunder deafens, the lightning might be 20 feet away, literally (I have driven through a storm where the lightning was striking in fields on either side of me). It is overwhelmingly beautiful and sometimes fearsome. These clouds are probably only fifteen minutes away.

The green isn't fair -- because soccer fields are supposed to be green. The difference is, there are no sprinkler systems.

Here's my garden so far this year. Lots of stuff are not planted yet. The big pile of stuff is mint. The tall stuff is tarragon. Those both came back on their own. There are lots of seeds planted, but not much coming up yet. Its a thick clay that I've been working on...but have a long way to go.

I posted on Facebook today that after yesterday's and today's storms, my garden is like Venice. It was a lot worse when I posted this. The water was 3x as high and through all the paths. It's slowly soaking in. But none of the seedlings were hurt. Raised beds did their job!! We just got done digging these ditches. We'd expanded almost double this year. As a matter of fact, we had to run in with the shovels when the downpour started. Maggie had fun playing in the water.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Manny Bein' Manny

My friend Barb the Evil Genius said she would like me to write about Manny, since she is an Indians fan, and very familiar with him (and since he's been going around advertising that's where he'd like to finish his career as well). Problem is, its just been too busy and too NICE to sit in here on the computer.

But here goes...STUPID GIT...or something that rhymes with that. I'm not concerned for the Dodgers. Manny has been a powerful influence, and his bat is important, but our guys have been doing just fine without him. I knew he'd be trouble one way or another, and have insisted all through the off-season that we did not want this guy if we could not have a contract that would be short, since he gets arrogant and difficult the more secure he is.

Anyway, so that man, and I use that term loosely -- HCG and all, drags us all through a tortuous contract process, knowing he's taking this stuff. He signs the contract, knowing that if he gets caught, he's of no use to us for 1/3 of the season, and who knows how he will be when he comes back.

Not only that, he's called into question our new record of most wins at home at the beginning of the season. Some say we wouldn't have gotten it if Manny hadn't juiced. I don't know if that is the case, with his sore hammy, he has mostly hit doubles, but then again, pitchers don't want to mess with him. He's also called into question all the success he has been associated with his entire career, including Boston's 2004 World Series.

My personal take...I would love for the Dodgers to sue to nullify his contract. I'm sick of these steroid guys (notice how a lot of them seem to be Boras's guys?). I really don't think that losing a few million and sitting for a month and 1/2 is enough. Manny intentionally signed a contract that he knew he might not be able to fulfill, that would put the Dodgers in a bind if this happened. Emphasize to these jerks that if they do steroids, they could lose it all. I don't think it will stop, really stop, until that hits home.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Final Wishes....

Today, Jeff and I were doing an errand and driving the van. A sparrow flew in front of the van and I heard a "THUNK" on the grill.

Jeff said that it must be okay, because he saw it fly on the other side of the van, so we drove on until we stopped at a convenience store for something to drink. As we came out, there was a dead sparrow sitting right on our bumper. "Guess I was wrong." Jeff said and went in side for a bag to take care of the poor little thing. "Is it wrong for me to laugh about this?" he asked, showing me the bag fated to be the little bird's final bodybag um resting place.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

My Asparagus Barrier

When we moved here, my daughter was just starting to walk, and quite the bundle of energy. There was no way that I could even contemplate gardening the first couple of years. I was content to see what came up when the snow melted. Growing up in the desert, having hostas and daffodils suddenly appear was a completely new experience. There were definitely things that I just let grow so I could figure out whether they were supposed to be there or were simply a weed. I'm struggling with some of things now because I let them freely grow those first couple of years..but oh well.
One problem with being a pastor's wife is that I never know how long I will live somewhere before God wants us somewhere else. Jeff usually has the guideline that he will not take another call before he's been somewhere five years, because that is just too hard on a congregation. Here is where my struggle comes in.

I love asparagus. I know I should plant asparagus. It's expensive in the stores...and we crave it grilled, in soups, in salads, etc. But it takes three years for asparagus to be fruitful. I also have this block with berry plants and currants, which I want to have very much. But when it comes time to decide what to grow, I always push it aside in favor of things that will harvest this year. Rather selfish of me, I know, because it might be possible that even if God called us somewhere else, the next pastor's wife could possibly appreciate not having to wait for three years, herself.

They are hopefully coming on Monday to till up some more of the field for our vegetable garden to be bigger. maybe I'll reserve some of it for asparagus. Pray for me...hopefully in three years, I'll have asparagus..or someone else will. :-)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Love (and gov't recognition) Makes it Real?

I saw on a tweet yesterday that there is someone who is pushing for tax credits for pet owners. Now, I'm not talking about what they are doing in California, by possibly allowing someone to deduct their adoption fees. The argument is that to many people, pets are their children. Vet bills are expensive, costs of maintaining the pets are expensive. So there should be a deduction.

Every Christmas, Target goes with a theme for their advertisements. Several years ago, I remember it was the Velveteen Rabbit with Amy Grant singing "Love Makes You Real." Somewhere, I think we got confused on all that.

I love animals. Really, I do. But they're not human. Children are human. Maybe because I have both, I know the difference. I know when I was pregnant with my firstborn, my biggest fear is that he'd be allergic to the animals...what would I do then???? But it was clear to me what I would do, and I would've found homes for those animals or put them in a shelter -- preferably a no kill one, but if I had to, the right is there.

The government doesn't have an interest in making sure you take care of your pet...not beyond nuisance level. Your pet is not going to need an education, grow up, and be able to serve in the military or as a concerned citizen. That is what the tax deduction for children is about. There was a time before the Pill and Global Warming that people thought it was good for our future to have children, and several of them. They not only brought us joy and heartache, but they also helped out the family, took care of each other, and grew up to repeat the cycle.

But to say basically that the government should give you a tax deduction because you chose to bring an animal into your home, but its expensive -- that a deduction is in order because you wanted something to that's just silly. But silliness abounds.

Everyone wants to have what they want and they want it to be okay...and to make it really okay, it has to be government sanctioned. Men who want to cut off their genitals and pump themselves with hormones (or women who want to do the same) want the government to give them a new identity saying that they are a woman, when they are not. Down to their DNA, they are men -- men who for some reason hate their bodies. But instead of finding out why, we simply condone it, call "Joe" "Jo" and ignore it.

People who find themselves having feelings for someone of the same sex want to have their relationship put on an equal status with marriage, but the reality is, its not. Even where the government recognizes it, its not. Every culture on this earth recognizes that marriage is between a man and a woman. Many don't think that marriage is about love at all, but about survival, economic benefit, and a safe place for the woman and children. But we've lost all concept of that since birth control is a reality and now children have become not much more than pets, in some cases, instead of a valuable addition to the survival of the family.

Marriage is not about two people coming together just because they have emotions for each other. We have a huge divorce rate because people think that. The vows made in the marriage ceremony really matter - till death do we part, because the need to remain together even if things sucked was much more important when a marriage was two people with different skills coming together to raise a family instead of two workers coming together to share a bed and a place to live while those feelings last.

And the survival of the family and a safe place to raise future citizens is in the interest of the government (however, I'm much more in favor of a flat tax with no tax deduction for kids). Recognizing another class of relationships that will clog up our courts with divorce cases is not in its best interest.

There is more than being a family than just choosing to love somebody. Even if that love is not there, the existence of the family is still a reality, no matter how broken it is. If that bond is only based on emotions, then it is very fragile indeed. And our divorce rates and the amount of animal shelters we have show this.

But the point is, the government can give a tax deduction for pets and mandate how you treat them, and give them alleged rights, but it doesn't change the fact that animals are not children, no matter how much you love them. Marriage IS between a man and a woman, even if the government says differently, because marriage is not about just wanting to be together. Just like they can call Stan "Loretta" and fight for his right to have a baby...he still can't. And occasionally it would be nice to have some sanity on this.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brussels Sprouts revisited

To those of you who came here looking for the caramelized Brussels Sprouts that Indiana Jane blogged about, here they are... (Hi Debbie!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One of those "Not Quite Right" Moments

As I was driving my six year old to her P.E. class, I was kind of daydreaming and not paying attention to the radio. About halfway through a song, my little angel said "I really like this song...its got a good beat and its fun to sing."

The lyrics:

I'm a joker
I'm a smoker
I'm a midnight toker
I get my lovin' on the run.....

At which point I supressed my urge to change the channel and reminded myself....its over her head. LOL. I hope she wasn't singing it at P.E. class.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sermon Link

For those of you who were asking about hearing my husband's Easter 2 sermon, here ya go . If you just click on the button, it asks to download. if you just put the cursor over it, a bubble pops up with a play button. Your choice. :-)

Enjoy. Here also the sermon he preached at the seminary last Fall on the Unforgiving Servant. I’ve been meaning to find a way to post it for a long time. Yea WordPress! It’s a .wav file though and my converter couldn’t seem to read it, so if you’d like to listen, you’ll have to download it. But it is beautiful.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Right Place and the Right Time

Like many Lutheran pastors, my husband preached on Jesus appearing to the disciples in the upper room, and probably like most, he took part of that sermon to talk about Thomas's doubts. He took a slightly different approach to it, though, from what I've heard before.

Looking at the week between Jesus's appearances to the disciples. He talked about how Thomas must have had an incredibly crummy week living there with them after that. He probably wanted to believe them, but he just couldn't, and he was probably approached by all the other guys over and over again to try to get him to believe, to rejoice like they were, while he was grieving and in disbelief.

And Thomas's struggle isn't foreign to any of us. We all have struggled with our pain, our doubts, our misery; but one of the truly amazing thing was is that Thomas was still there in that room with all of them the next week when Jesus reappeared. He didn't leave. Maybe he was simply afraid of being recognized or arrested and had no where else to go, and these were his friends, his companions, all in the same boat together. For one reason or another, he was still there, in the midst of those with stronger faith than he. And because he was there, he was there to hear Christ's word's of comfort to him, he was there to feel the nail holes, the scar where the spear had pierced his side, and to embrace him and proclaim "My Lord and my God."

Often when people despair or doubt, they disappear from God's house. They stay home or go do something that helps them feel better. When they doubt God, they go away, so they are not even there to hear the words that would bring them comfort, the message of the Gospel that the Holy Spirit wants them to hear. These people, our neighbors and friends need our labored prayers, our compassion, and our encouragement. They need the same gentleness that Jesus showed Thomas.

And the Holy Spirit took all of this and smacked me in the head with the Gospel, and I literally wept at the beauty of it.

You see, I've always hated being a pastor's wife - for almost twelve years now, fifteen if you count seminary. I definitely don't fit the expectations that other people have for me, and I'm really not very good at saying "to heck with them." I've responded to these expectations with alternating reactions..from a shrug of the shoulders to tears to marked defiance. Usually a combination of them all.

I've come to church already exhausted from the anticipation of another day of pacing the narthex with my babies or keeping them entertained and quiet...or engaging in the battle of the wills that is toddlerhood...all alone. I've dealt with people telling the elders when they've had a problem with something I've written here, but never me. I've had people interpret something my son has said to be my own opinion, and I could go on and on....

But when I actually list the reasons why I don't like it, they never seem to have any substance to them, which frustrates me more, because they make my pain seem silly. I certainly know pastors' wives who have had it far worse than me. I have been blessed with the company of so many incredible Christians, a good house, a fairly comfortable living, an environment that has been a blessing to my family, and the knowledge that my husband takes joy in his calling--- except for the fact that he knows I struggle with it. I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why God has put me here , when I clearly don't have what it takes. And as far as my husband goes, I've begged, threatened, and coerced -- and out of love for me, he probably would do something else if I pushed hard enough, but I also cannot deny that whatever I may think of my place in all of this, God has clearly made him to be a pastor. I can't see him doing anything else -- and I love him. So after my occasional tantrums, I back off and let the peace restore itself.

There are worse things I could tell you about. I can tell you about my crisis of faith that started before we were married and lasted through the first long five years, where I couldn't deny God's existence, but found myself denying His love. I can tell you about Saturday night blasphemies that tore at my husband's heart, only to find him on Sunday preaching to me, communing me...because somehow, he saw the struggle that was still there within me. I can also recount to you about smiling through his ordination even though I'd just found out I had an ectopic pregnancy only a few hours earlier. Incidences of gossip, lies, judgments, assumptions, and so many other things that are sometimes the life of the pastor's family and his flock at times, because Satan does attack -- and they did serve to tear down my faith further and left me lashing out at no one in pain and anger, so Jeff bore the brunt of them. Memories that my sweet husband says he doesn't remember...but despite belief in God's forgiveness and his, are still all too lucid to me.

The Holy Spirit took the death of our son, Noah to restore my faith. Somehow, instead of seeing his stillbirth as further proof that God was unloving, I desperately clung to the hope that God loved my son and was caring for him when I couldn't. I needed the gospel. I heard it through a woman I had never met telling me online "May the peace that passes all understanding keep you in Christ Jesus." Despite hearing those exact words from my husband's mouth every week at the end of his sermon, I had never contemplated in my heart what they meant. And these words that came from her keyboard and his lips did indeed bring peace.

Despite many years, a stronger faith, and a more peaceful heart, I still find this a role that fits me about as well as a size four bikini and it leaves me feeling just as exposed. I often praise God that he has made me a Christian, for making me Jeff's wife, but never for sticking me in the role of pastor's wife.

But today I realized something that was mindblowing for me. It all of a sudden became clear that while my husband was talking about how we all can relate to Thomas, that I really have been Thomas, maybe worse than Thomas. I all of a sudden realized that God didn't make me a pastor's wife because I am somehow stronger, or at least supposed to be stronger; but exactly the opposite. He made me a pastor's wife because I am weak, terribly weak, and He put me here to protect me, to shelter me...from myself.

The bald reality is that if I hadn't been a pastor's wife, if my husband hadn't married me or had given into my pleas, threats, etc. to find something else to do with his life, I would not have been sitting in the pew through those painful years of agony and doubt. I would've used Sundays to sleep in and ignore the fact that God's Word even existed. I would've tried to prove that God was not loving by not being there to hear His love...probably not even to experience it through the incredible love that my husband showed through all of that. I would've proudly, scornfully walked away.

Even though I didn't want to be there hearing the gospel, I was. And when I needed to hear it, God had put me in a situation where at least I was duty-bound to be there - as terribly angry and resentful as I was. Otherwise, I'm scared to think of what I would be right now. God, in His infinite wisdom knew this and held on to me through even this aspect of my existence that I at best tolerate, and at worst -- disdain - and am constantly repenting.

I cannot even begin to describe the awe I feel at this.

So for the first time in my life, I say thank you, God. Thank you for making me a pastor's wife.

--Psalm 139.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Little Truth

This was a good article on the reality of life when a woman has a baby with a man that refuses to marry her....

Monday, April 06, 2009

Baseball's Here!!!

Baseball season is here again, and I must admit, after five years here in Indiana, I am still not adjusted to the idea of being horribly cold on the first day. And looking at snow on the ground (though just in patches) is just plain wrong.

But still, all is once again right with the world. My Boys in Blue are ready to play, and I'm excited about the team. I am thrilled with the signings and I love our young guys....and Maggie and I managed to once again obtain Russell Martin for our fantasy team. What more could I want?

Woo Hoo! Go Dodgers!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Representative Mark Souder sent me this email today:

Dear Mrs. Horn:

I want to hear from you on the government's response to the economic crisis. Please click here share with me your story of the economic crisis. Specifically, how has the government's response in the stimulus and President Obama's budget affected you? Be sure to title your email, "My Story" so that we can quickly process your comments in our system.

The economic recession is hitting our entire country hard, but it has been especially challenging here in northeast Indiana. The government must respond, but it must do so wisely. I would like to know how tax increases would affect your ability to pay your health care premiums, send your children to college, start a small business, or otherwise achieve your American Dream.

Your perspective and experiences are very important to me and will help me better understand the needs of Hoosiers in our area.

Here is my response:

Dear Congressman Souder:

You asked for the stories of people in Northeast Indiana, and how they have been effected by the recession, the bailouts, and the President's budget.

My family is currently secure, but we have friends who have lost their jobs or who fear that they will lose their jobs because they work for companies that supply the automotive Big Three.
They are struggling on unemployment, they can't afford their COBRAs and so their children are on Hoosier Healthwise, but they can't take any kind of job that would help ease the strain unless it offers benefits, or their kids have no healthcare. This is a story I hear repeatedly from friends, people at my church, and people in my community.

Strangely enough, everyone that I have talked to in this situation is also against the bailouts of the automotive industry. They are also against universal, government run healthcare, because they see much more clearly than the people in Washington that it is the government's job to protect our freedoms, not provide daily security. Americans have faced very difficult times before, but there is tyranny in "being too big to fail."

Now, we'll talk about me. How have the bailout packages, the ecomomic stimulus package, and the new budget effected me? I'm afraid and I'm angry.

I grew up being with the value that we obey the rule of law, not men, and the most important law of the land is the Constitution of the United States. It is the greatest document written by man that was not inspired by God. I elect my representatives not to necessarily agree with me on every issue, but to uphold that Constitution. Yet I am afraid that it doesn't seem like these Representatives have read it, much less uphold it and use it as a rule to limit their own authority and responsibility for that matter.

As an American, I am being ruled by men who look to the next election, who are afraid of their constituents, and who are ruling by their emotion rather than law. The Constitution did not give the authority for either bailout to happen, for the programs in that stimulus package, and does not give authority for a good portion of our President's new budget.

People could lose jobs. People could struggle. The economic structure of the entire world could be at stake. I agree, it is a very scary time. But the Constitution does not lay the responsibility for this at your feet. The fact of the matter is that the only responsibility that government had was to regulate the banking and automotive industry to keep them from being too big, to keep them from making fraudulent investments that created this mess. In short, to uphold laws that were ALREADY on the books.

And it is not government's job to provide healthcare. God help us that the men who have created this mess manage our healthcare system. We may need something that is not tied to our employment, but the answer is not the government. The only role that I see that government should have in this is to keept he insurance companies from colluding to rip off their customers. Again, laws that are already on the books.

It also is not the government's job to inspire populist rage or respond to it. It is not the government's job to fire CEOs -- that is the investors' job, and it certainly is not the government's job to coerce a company into merging with a foreign company. It is not their job to prevent them from filing bankruptcy which would have allowed reorganization and possibly recovery.

It is also not your job to vote on bills that change the whole nature of the role of the government without reading it.

I suggest that you, Representative Souder, start a reading group with your fellow representatives -- and start with that grand old document that you swore to uphold. I wish you had reviewed it and your oath to uphold it before you voted for both of those bailout packages. In the end, your vote probably didn't matter, except to how you chose to represent those constituents back home, since Republicans have been trying to talk out of both sides of their mouths for so long and have lost so many seats because of it...since they forgot their party platform as well as the Constitution.

This is how it has effected me. My friends still don't have their jobs back, but I am concerned that my freedoms, my rights, and my children's rights and freedoms are in jeopardy.
I thank you for your strong defense of Life, but if another Republican candidate comes against you in the primary with a strong prolife position as well, I am voting with the idea that while term limits might not be law, they are indeed good. These packages have made me do a lot of thinking, contemplating, and reading on issues that I value, but might have taken for granted previously.

As it was said in To Kill a Mockingbird, "I did not love reading until I was going to lose it. One does not love breathing." I didn't value my freedom enough until it is dying.


If Mark Souder is your Congressman, the link for submitting your story is here: Congressman Souder's contact page. If it isn't please Google your congressman and submit your story as well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

An Energy Thought That Occurred to Me Today

As it was announced that the CEO of GM has tendered his resignation at the bequest of Congress, and the story went on to talk about the GM Volt -- the electric car that they are finalizing, a thought occurred to me....

The strength of the Volt is that you can go 40 miles on an electrical charge from your house. Okay, sounds great. A good to and from work car. And it will use gasoline and recharge its battery from that as I understand, so it CAN go farther. The story touted it as the first car that makes electricity a viable, cheap fuel.

Only is it? How can we count on that?

My concern is the Cap and Trade taxes that are being brought about to discourage most current methods of electrical production. Obama has PROMISED our electrical bills will go up, a lot. He promised it even in his campaign. There is even talk that the new power grid could have the ability to charge extra if we use too much electricity or keep our thermostat too high.

Where does that put using electricity to fuel these new generation electric cars? We might get a tax credit for it, but the cost of electricity soon enough may more than make up for that little reward for thinking "green."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Obama Uniting the Right?

Here's an interesting article on The Standard's blog

Though I really wonder if that is true. As a matter of fact, I don't think it is.

People don't get united through "what we don't want." They are united by what they hold in common. That's why Reagan worked. He emphasized that.

Take the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, for instance. I use it as an example because I am always amazed at how what is going on in our church body, politically, is a strong reflection of what is going on in our government. However, it doesn't surprise me, since the LCMS governing structure was modeled on it.

Those who are conservative and confessional have been trying to take back the presidency for many years now, but have never been able to succeed. Instead of focusing on what they believe in common, they often focus on particular points that they feel particularly strongly about and that leads to further division, much like how the Republicans have social Republicans, evangelical Republicans, and economic Republicans. Each feels their particular issues are the most important and will then attack the others or refuse to join with them in order to emphasize their particular point. Look at how the Republican party tried to win moderates by minimizing the voice of the evangelicals, and how really, they've been losing strength ever since they claimed that there is enough room under "their umbrella" for differing views on abortion.

While I'm not going around saying "We need a Reagan," we do need someone who can emphasize those similarities and bring those groups together. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is not necessarily true. They could just be another enemy for different reason.

If there is no way to unite on common values within the Republican Party, instead of just a common enemy, the party can just as easily collapse, and with many voters' disgust with the Grand Ole Party's abandonment of its values and its inability to communicate those values in an effective way -- that is truly a possibility.

The last election did not put forth a candidate who was a true leader with a solid sense of hope for America, except for Sarah Palin, but she wasn't the candidate. But the fact that she did so was why so many gravitated to her. McCain was one who just had the most hope of standing for just enough to unite conservatives and moderates into a place of complaisance. When he ran back to "rescue the government" but that rescue meant voting for a bailout that made no sense to Republican or American sensibilities, all was lost.

If Limbaugh, Steele, McCain, and other leaders cannot get along, it doesn't matter that they are against Obama, because they will be individuals against one very powerful, unified force. They can be flicked away.

"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand; and if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mark 3:24-25

We do not have a common enemy if we consider each other to be the enemy as well. I fear for the Republican Party (and yes, for the LCMS ). For some reason, the Republican Party has always been the one that has falls and has to be reincarnated (though the Democrats' message is the polar opposite of what it was pre-FDR). I'm wondering if we are about to see this party restrengthen, or die to be reborn as something else -- which will happen. It is the party that has left the values, not the values that have let down the party. A good portion of the American people still believe in those values.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

To Thine Own Curls Be True

I've always had curly hair. Not kinky tight curly hair, some might call it wavy, but there are tight ringlets underneath. They flattened somewhat when I was a kid, going to bed with wet hair, and so were relatively unimpressive and shapeless. When I was old enough to lift a hair dryer, I feathered it, straightened it, curled it under, etc.

Problem is, as I got older (and with each subsequent pregnancy) my hair has gotten thicker and thicker. Blow drying actually hurts my wrist and I was growing more and more frustrated. Then my friend Polly posted about a book called Curly Girl, which talks about how curly hair needs to be treated completely differently than straight.

Here is a great description of the method

And yes, it is rather shocking at first. Don't use shampoo? Yep. Curly hair is more porous than straight hair, and harsh detergents in shampoo make it frizz. You scrub your scalp with conditioner to get the oils off the skin (treating the scalp like skin, but not treating the hair like skin...because its not). Rinse with cool water, put in a gel, and allow to air dry or diffuser dry. Lots of people worry about it getting oily, but what I've found is the drying properties of shampoo cause the hair to produce more oils. After a week or two with conditioner oily, the scalp only produces the oils that it needs.

I'm wearing my hair longer than I ever have (a few inches above my bra strap, for lack of a better geographical marker), and I like it, because it is easy and most of the time, it doesn't look bad. I don't have to wash it as often, because again, my scalp isn't producing as many oils.

What I didn't expect is the psychological difference. I have had lots of experience with how liberating it can feel to embrace aspects of my life that I was fighting (breastfeeding, being a stay at home mom, homeschooling), but I didn't even realize that I was fighting a part of who I am, feeling bad about my hair (especially living in a humid environment), but WOW. This has been so wonderful. In a way it is simply embracing a part of me that I didn't really even think was important. Maybe because it was a fight with something that wasn't important is why it feels good.

Now, I'm not going to make any Pantene commercials anytime soon, but I personally have been happy with it. It's been fun. It's been easy.

Now my only problem is that I have been loath to et it cut because even that is really different. Before I discovered this method, I have often been tempted to let it go curly and have asked for stylists who knew how to work with curly hair. They always say they do, but it never really was right and never had any shape. So I gave the chapter to my stylist, Laura, whom I really do like, and she already said the care portion made sense, but she has never tried the cutting method before (cutting dry, cutting individual curls to find their shape, and then rinsing and styling under a hot lamp). So we are giving it a try, and I am kind of scared. I did get a couple of names last night off of a naturally curly hair site . So if it doesn't work, I have a couple of numbers to call, but growing out mistakes isn't the easiest thing in the world. Cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why The Market Continues to Decline

Indiana Jane posted this on Twitter and I thought it was well written and very thorough.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Turning It Around

Over the years, I've had many friends who are Christian, but not Lutheran, and generally, this means we have a different view of baptism. Usually, it means that they have an objection to one of two things, or both: 1). That a child is baptized without first declaring their faith. 2). (which is a variant) that the child did not have a choice in the matter.

Sometimes they state that there is nothing in the Bible that specifically says to baptize infants. Often, we as Lutherans point to Christ's "Suffer not the little children to come unto me" with the Greek word for children meaning "infant." Also, it says to baptize nations, Acts records entire households being baptized, and of course, Paul's declaring baptism to be the new circumcision, with circumcision being on the 8th day of life.

Lutherans also point to the verse "No man can come to the Spirit unless the Holy Spirit draws Him" and other such verses that shape our doctrine that we do not choose Christ, Christ chooses us. We cannot come to faith through our own understanding but only through the Holy Spirit. One way we receive the Holy Spirit is through baptism, and there is proof in the Bible that infants can have the Holy Spirit and faith - John the Baptist danced in Elizabeth's womb when Mary, newly pregnant with the Messiah, came near.

I don't ever remember seeing a place in the Bible where a child comes to a particular age and chooses his faith or direction in that faith. Just as we cannot choose our status as sinners, those of us brought up in the faith cannot choose our status as believers, either. The Bible is full of examples of this.

Some that come to mind for me are:

Noah's children -- Even though they are clearly grown at this point, it never says that they are welcome on the ark because of their own faith, but because of Noah's.

Descendants of Abraham -- Isaac did not offer to be a sacrifice or to be the one to procure the line of Abraham into a great nation. In fact, when Sarah took it into her own hands to help along God's promise of giving him an heir, God rejected it. Joseph surely didn't choose to be sent to Egypt, yet God used him mightily. The children of Israel were God's people not because they were worthy of it and constantly choosing to be loyal - God chose them, and He was the one continually keeping that covenant alive.

When God rescued the Israelites from Egypt, he led them through the Red Sea...baptizing them as His own as they walked through it. Yet, He didn't say, those of you who want to come, come forth. He led them through, young and old, weak and strong, those with faith and those who didn't. He brought them through the desert and to the Promised Land.

Infants and grownups alike made this journey, infants and grownups alike celebrated the Passover and other feasts, and the instruction from Scripture was to tell the children why they do this as they ask and to raise them to know God.

Samuel didn't chose to serve in the tabernacle or to be a prophet. Hannah decided his life for him before he was even conceived, and God took him as his prophet. David didn't choose to be king, but he faithfully served God. No prince to follow would choose either.

I'm just going through and listing things that come to mind, and looking at the Bible, a first born son was presented soon after he was born and the atoning sacrifice made for him. All boys were circumcised on the 8th day. They were brought into the covenant, not choosing to participate in it...and Paul clearly states that baptism is the new circumcision.

Basically, in this argument, we are often put on the defensive. When the world says "prove to me that we are to baptize infants" we need to say "prove to me that we are not supposed to." Because it isn't there. It just isn't. There are words that often embrace infants - nations, households, families, children...these are to be included in baptism. The Jewish faith includes infants in the covenant. Yet Evangelicals state " have to confess your faith before you engage in this symbolic act." We need to say "but where does it say that in Scripture?" and "Where does it say that it is merely symbolic?"

I'd love to find out what is the argument and the history behind excluding infants and young children from being one in the death and resurrection of Christ, to find why they don't need it, why they wouldn't want us to give that to them, when they welcome God's gifts that sustain their lives, which flow through us their parents, in every other way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The LCMS Is Sinning Against Issues, Etc. and You

The LCMS is threatening a law suit against Pastor Todd Wilken & Producer Jeff Schwarz for using the name "Issues, Etc." on their internet radio show, despite the fact that they have indicated no future desire to use it and in fact, the Synod let the trademark expire TEN years ago, years before they cancelled the show.

The current administration is continuing to try to exercise restraint over the topics discussed on the show, just as they restrained them from covering topics that would call into question the direction this adminstration has taken when they were still on KFUO.

If you have read Pastor Matt Harrison's statement "It's Time" (linked in the sidebar above), you will know what a complete financial mess the LCMS is in, and the lack of direction we have in theology and practice. The fact that they would devote synodical funds to this while missionaries are being pulled from the field because of lack of funds and ministries are being denied their designated funds is shameful. Please sign the petition and let the boys in the Purple Palace know what us Plebians in the Pews think.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Survival With Babies

I think it is rather strange, really, that I have been a La Leche League Leader for ten years (newly retired), I am a certified lactation consultant, and a mom of two who breastfed for a grand total of 7 1/2 years, and I honestly never blog about breastfeeding or babies. Well, since there really is no one who has to subject themselves to my vast resources of knowledge at meetings anymore, maybe it is time that I wrote about it here. I've lately found myself surrounded by babies at hey, while it is on my mind, I'll write the things I've always meant to write:

1. Breastfeeding is awesome. It gives the baby the perfect food...changes not only depending on the time of life for the baby, but the TIME OF DAY. It provides nutrients exactly as needed (thorugh a biological feedback loop that they think occurs because the Montgomery glands are sensitive to certain enzymes in the baby's saliva), immunological protection (that again, through the Montgomery glands, the mammary glands can produce antibodies to germs the MOTHER HASN"T BEEN EXPOSED TO), and I could go on and on and on and on.

2. Just because breastfeeding is awesome, doesn't mean it is easy. Especially the first several weeks. Actually, in a couple of months it is so easy that you'll wonder why people ever mess with bottles or formula. However, in the first weeks, the baby has never had to eat before it was born, just as the new mom has never had to figure out how to feed a baby through her breasts. Positioning can be a big deal. When the baby is 3 months old, it can be doing backflips while nursing and it doesn't hurt. When the baby is little though, leaning over just a tad can cause pain. A lip could get tucked in, a tongue might be in the wrong place. But it shouldn't hurt and nipples should not crack and bleed. If it does hurt, find someone (a La Leche League Leader, a lactation consultant, or even an experienced mom). There are ways to make it better, and often better VERY quickly. 90% of all breastfeeding pain is positioning. It helps to have someone take a look.

Some people just expect it to come naturally. Occasionally it does. But not very often. I tell moms that it is like learning to drive. The first time I got behind a wheel, all of a sudden, 25 miles an hour felt FAST, and keeping track of the speed, the mirrors, the guy next to me, and everything else was dang hard. Now I do it without really thinking about it. New moms have never breastfed before and it is hard to get a stiff, flailing baby to your breast and get everything right. It takes loads of practice. And as I said before, the baby has never done this before, either. I find that most moms find it gets easier somewhere around 6 weeks.

Learning to nurse in public helps with feeling tied down. Most states have protected the right (and none have prohibited it). It is not indecent, even if skin shows. A blanket over the shoulder often advertises the fact that you are nursing rather than hides it, and my kids would not tolerate a blanket between me and them. However, it generally is possible to nurse discreetly by pulling up your shirt from the waist and letting it sit on the breast where the baby's head meets. It is very hard to even tell that the baby is nursing. With a button up blouse, unbutton from the bottom rather than from the top - that way the neck and breast isn't fully revealed, and again, let the shirt flap hide the top of the breast (lots of moms I know wear belly bands - knit bands around the belly that keep the breezes out and hide skin). Practice by sitting in front of a mirror. (though babies will at certain times grab the shirt and pull up). Baby slings can help, too. Nojo, Maya Wrap, and Over the Shoulder Baby Holder are the big brands -- but there are others...Google them. Slings take practice, and sometimes when a baby doesn't like it, he will like it in a couple of weeks. Or he will like a different position.

3. As I said, the baby has never had to eat before it was born. Out of any system, the baby's digestive system is the most immature. Nourishment went straight into the blood stream through the umbilical cord, and the stomach and intestines and such just sat there biding their time. So often, it takes a baby time to learn how to get that digestion thing down...and often it is the same time as they are kind of getting that breathing thing it takes a while...and it is hard to do both at the same time. When it is extreme, we call it colic. Colic is loads of screaming from 3 weeks to 3 months, usually in the evening, for about 3 hours straight.

4. But even when it is not colic, babies are often very fussy in the evening, during the same phase of life. There are lots of reasons for that. "THEY" (the omniscient "they") seem to think that it is said immature digestive system. Also, it tends to be the busy time at night. The electric lights are on, which may bother the baby more than we know. Everyone is stressed after getting dinner done and dishes done (or if they aren't doing it, they are stressed that they aren't doing it).

5. Babies do sometimes show reactions to foods (more often than most parents know, really). Shadows under the eyes, stuffiness (newborns do not generally get colds), clicking while nursing, abdominal pain, a rash between the buttocks that is smooth and burnlike, green, mucusy stools -- can all be signs of a food sensitivity. Chances are, if you bring your baby to the doctor, he will look at you like you are full of it. Dairy is the most common. Cowsmilk (at least pasteurized cows milk) has huge proteins and passes through the milk and causes problem. It is the protein, not the lactose. A baby that is truly lactose intolerant is in serious trouble. Real lactose intolerance doesn't show up until 7 or 8 years old, because human milk has more lactose in it than any other milk, and lactose is VERY important for brain growth.

But taking foods out of the mothers diet (one at a time) can help. Eliminate one type for two weeks and see if there is a change. Dairy is the first (and you want to eliminate anything with casein, sodium caseinate, or whey is important. Look at all labels, you'll be amazed what it is in); followed by soy (and 1/2 of all babies that react to dairy will react to soy...same problem with that huge protein); followed by eggs (and look at labels for albumin; wheat (avoid all gluten); and citrus. Chances are, if you had a lot of it when you were pregnant...that is your culprit. But it might not be. That is the first place to look, though. If you notice an improvement, you probably are pretty sure you found your culprit. If you are not sure, reintroduce a bit to see if the baby reacts again. With dairy, some babies will tolerate cheese and yogurt (somewhat predigested) but won't tolerate milk, cream, or ice cream (sigh)

6. Moms in our culture are expected to do way too much too soon. In many cultures, mothers get breaks of several weeks before they are expected to be out in public, or even allowed to be. Jews have 40 days of uncleanness before the mother is expected to keep a kosher kitchen or participate in prayers and the lifestyle again. Muslims, the same thing. Even in Orthodox Christianity, it is common to treat the mother as a shut-in and bring communion to her until six weeks. The only time she comes out with the baby is for the baptism. This sabbatical is merciful....the most important thing at this time is the baby and the mom getting to know each other and figure each other out and only deal with the basics of life. When family is around, they are obligated to help...not be entertained.

Often, we expect the mom to be up and moving and have her act together within the first week or two. That's not right. She is recovering from the birth, her hormones are all over the place, and the baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. It is a stressful, life-changing time. Dad and mom need to do all they can to ensure a quiet adjustment and being as available to each other as possible, as well as support from outside the immediate family. If you are a friend, offer to clean something, do a load of laundry, or hold the baby while mom takes a shower or a nap. However, most of her instinct are going to be that she wants to stay close to the if she turns that down, just offer to help anyway possible. Some feel guilty for sometimes saying "I AM bringing over some food and would like to help you while you relax" can help.

6. Family bed is a lifesaver when it comes to caring for a baby, especially a breastfeeding baby. But what I would've liked someone to tell me was that it is really hard during the first several weeks. The baby is just too small to latch on easily from that side, and latching on even in a regular position and nursing is still a skill being learned. However, getting past that first growth spurt at around 5 or 6 weeks makes a HUGE difference. That is also about the time that breastfeeding gets easier on the whole. Turning on the light to see what is going on also kind of defeats the purpose and wakes the baby up completely. A lot of moms recommend having a small flashlight by the bed or a booklight. But be careful of shining an LED right into the baby's eyes.

7. Oh yeah...that growth spurt that occurs around 5 or 6 weeks (sometimes 4). All of a sudden, the baby wants to nurse CONSTANTLY...when you put him down, he wakes back up again and is fussing and gets scary. Often, when I've had a mom tell me "I just didn't make enough milk" I find that it happened at six weeks. What happened was the baby hit a growth spurt, the mom panicked that the baby was nursing all the time, gave the baby a bottle, and baby got full and went to sleep after downing a whole bunch of formula. But then baby didn't need to eat again for 3-4 hours, and when the baby went to the breast, the same thing ensued, until the baby was getting a lot of formula, and not nursing much, so the breasts slowed down on making milk.

The way it actually works is the mother gives up any hope of a sane day and surrenders to a day on the couch, nursing constantly. What goes in has to come out, so she watches the diapers to make sure that there are 5-7 wet disposables (bowel movements count) and at least one bowel movement). If that is happening the baby is getting enough. But what he is doing is stimulating the breasts to increase milk production, because the baby is growing. This goes on for one to two days, and then every body catches up. You stimulate milk production by frequency of nursing, that is why the baby gets back on soon after he gets off. And that is why also, if you are trying to increase your supply, you put the baby to the breast more often instead of longer, or pump halfway between feedings rather than right at the end of one.

But very few pieces of breastfeeding literature talk about growth spurts or frequency days. So I am.

8. Some babies nurse a lot or are just plain fussy. These are called "high need babies." And there is nothing wrong with them. They are just better at asking for what they need than some other babies are. All babies should be held most of the time, nursed frequently, and sleep close to their mom. It is how babies have been raised for most of history. By being close, they are safe. They crave contact, your breathing regulates theirs, and breastmilk digests quickly so they need to do it again soon (and sometimes they are just thirsty) -- not to mention it is soothing, and this big world is pretty overwhelming to a little baby.

But high need babies let you know they need it and they are not going to easily tolerate not getting it. From experience, high need babies tend to be very intelligent, very emotional, very in tune to others emotions, and very sensitive to their environment as they grow. Chances are, you can look at (at least) one of the parents and see that coming. Some babies seem to need time to adjust to life in this world. Others, kind of need ways of coping with it throughout the rest of their life -- but do pretty well all the same.

One thing that really helped me was something I read in The Discipline Book by Dr. William and Marth Sears (I recommend any book by the Sears'). They said something that really took the load off for me. They said that sometimes there is nothing you can do with a fussy baby but hold him and let him know that you love him even when he's fussy. And that is enough. You don't have to stop the fussiness (as much as you want to), but just love him through it. The fact that you are not leaving him to deal with it alone is exactly what he needs. That freed me from having to solve the fussy problem with my son and just love him through it. He did get through it - at least 90% of the time I think he did. But boy was it a huge relief when he smiled at me, because he was so fussy the first several weeks that I swore he thought I was an idiot. Oh wow did that smile make it better.

I'm sure I forgot a lot...but I'm sure some of you wise women out there can add to it. Warning: I delete Ezzo stuff (strict inflexible schedules, cry it out training). It's my blog. I don't like it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Obama Quote of the Week

Today at the National Prayer Breakfast:

"There is no god that condones taking the life of an innocent human being."

Personally, I think every prolife organization and even those who have sympathies with prolife organizations should take this quote as their slogan, attribute it to President Obama, and use these words as our guiding force, even if his actions show otherwise.

His actions are wrong. His words are completely right. I hope and pray they become a guiding force in our nation

Is it Really All that Bad?

Things that I have learned are not necessities --

2 cars (Jeff and I have lived on one car for almost our entire marriage. We just make it a point to live near where he works. We have a parsonage now, but haven't always had that luxury. At times, it isn't fun, but it isn't a necessity).

new cars -- plenty of cars work well, and they lose thousands of dollars of value the instant they come off the lot. Those thousands can be saved for occasional repairs in buying a good used car.

Really most anything new -- If you look at Ebay, garage sales, classified ads, thrift stores - you can get almost anything, and often quite nice. New is a luxury, and if we are concerned about our environment, we really do need to look at the retail worship that we have in our country.

T.V. -- we gave up t.v. for 3 years, and I am almost to the point of being willing to do it again. But boy people thought we were wierd....and the babysitter really earned her pay. I think she was about ready to hike our price. Our t.v. is about to die (stupid thing is only 5 years old) and I am not sure whether I'll replace it with the 18 inch that I have sitting in the basement that I've had since college, or if I'll just go unplugged.

Debt - and I am working hard to get out of it.

I realize all of this is considered unpatriotic in the day and age where the health of the economy is measured by the Consumer Confidence Index -- which basically means "how comfortable do I feel in accumulating more debt this month?" and that we are literally being told to go spend! I am not sure that I think it is a bad thing for our work force to shrink to the point where things lower in cost and families are forced to have one person raise the children while the other works...and to figure out how to live that way.

And I'm not saying that I live without anything new, in the dark, and never go to restaurants. I am just saying that I weigh the options of the worth of my time vs. the cost of the new object, etc.

So what about you? What have you found to be unnecessary?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Completely Dangerous

Okay, I can just see it. Guy takes his girlfriend out for a cheap meal before the hockey game, hands her a packet of hot sauce, and WHAM, finds he's just proposed. A $3.00 burrito just became 2 months salary (that's the estimated cost of an engagement ring, right? who thought that up anyway?) (Dumber proposals have happened)

Making it even harder, how does he explain that he doesn't want to marry her, even though he's inferring that she's "hot?"
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good Ol' INFP

Still me....

INFP - "Questor". High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

I love personality tests, but the Myers-Briggs has always rang the most true to me. They were always my favorite classes in college and grad school. I don't talk about it much, but when I grow up someday, I want to be a psychologist.

The first time I heard of this one was when my brother was telling me about it. He'd taken it at work, and when telling me about it, he was expounding why his type, ESTJ, was clearly the best. Of course, when I took it, I ended up being everything he disdained ..... I'm kind of proud of that.

I am however, just about convinced that most confessional Lutherans are ISTJs. Maybe that would make an interesting masters thesis.....

The Blue Ribbon Task Force Proposal

The District Conventions are starting, and that creates a good opportunity to reallly dig in and try to understand the Blue Ribbon Task Force Proposal for restructuring the Synod, right? After all, if we are going to completely restructure, we should fully understand it and be able to discuss it, right?

Scott Diekmann at Stand Firm has the testimonies of pastors who have just attended the North Dakota District Convention...that this is not the case. Please give this a read. It's going to be a long couple of years before this reaches the congregations, and so we all need to be up on it.

I also recommend reading the Blue Ribbon Task Force proposal and Pr. Matt Harrison's statement that is linked at the top right of my blog. It's a lot of reading, but VERY insightful. Pr. Harrison will be running for the office of president. I think he is the best hope we confessionals have had since Al Barry. God bless him, and I pray we all unite behind him.