Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just Couldn't Hack It

For years, I wondered why I struggled so much with being in the parish.  It wasn't like our congregations were especially cruel, in fact, they both were nice; pay was fair; and there was a house attached.

It was last year, when I went to work full-time, that I really realized exactly what it was.  PTSD.  Having PTSD was no surprise, I knew that...but I never really had related it to being a pastor's wife.

In most congregations, there are rarely huge crises...but there are little things, especially when a person tends to be someone who doesn't quite fit the mold, does things out of the ordinary, and stinks at some things as well (me, me, and most definitely me).

The gossip would get to me.  The unspoken expectations would drive me crazy.  The conflicts that had happened over silly things.  Often they were things the majority of the congregation didn't know about, but were behind the scenes....And when I found out that there were issues with things I'd done months or years after I could've done something about it...that would have me in tears for days...and always ready for the next shoe to drop.

"Just ignore it," I was told.  "Don't let it bother you," was common advice...and good advice.  But advice I couldn't take.  And I had no idea why.  I could try the power of positive thinking, I could change my perspective...for a little while.

Actually, I'm great at handling huge crises.  I can be brave in the face of turmoil, calm in the storm.  Truly, I am awesome at it.

But growing up in the way I was never the big things that caused the world to turn upside down.  It was little things.  Stupid things.  Things that were only rarely expected, and would probably leave most normal people aghast at the things that would cause incredible turmoil in my family.   Life was about avoiding those times, trying to anticipate those times...survive those times.   Things that often to regular people should never have been a big deal at all.

In the parish, I struggled because I could never turn that off.  As much as I've recovered from it, I can't turn that hyper-alertness that looks for these things.  I can't stop wondering if something is going on that I don't know about.  Working away from home was one of the only ways I could get away from it.  Living in a parsonage especially made me feel very, very vulnerable to impending doom.

In the seven years that I've written about being a pastor's wife, and the fifteen years that I was one, I could never quite put that into words.  In my interaction with seminary and pastors' wives, I have always tried to keep in perspective that whatever my issues were, they weren't necessarily those of others.

And the title is a bit facetious.  I "hacked" it for fifteen years, and God has been gracious and merciful -- blessing me in many ways along the way.  I've had very patient and loving family as well as having been blessed with amazing friends who have supported me and loved me for being Lora, and who weren't usually associated with the stress soup.  They've been my sanity over the years. 

I have no idea what mission work in Papua New Guinea will bring, whether this will be an issue there.  My husband won't be a parish pastor there, but there is a lot of learning to do, learning to relate to other people in completely new ways with a new language and a new culture.  I have been doing a lot of praying.  We've only visited for a little more than a week, yet as I process what I saw there, it seems like it is becoming more home to me than Indiana or our very nice parsonage ever was.  It is strange and freeing that there is the fact that if I can't hack it after giving it a very fair shot, they will pull us out.  But I hope, pray, and desire that I can, because we are needed there, and I have a feeling that it will be very, very good.  Hard, but good.

I know this time that we have had where I have been able to live in a house that isn't a parsonage, sitting in the pews of churches that aren't my husband's...has been very healing.

And you have been important to me, too.  Having you share your experiences, your wisdom, and often, your pain, has been amazing.  I never meant for this to be a pastors' wives site, nor did I ever set about to have a place to be a pastor's wife when almost every moment of my life was trying to escape that fact...but it did become that, and from what has been said by has been a blessing.

I wish you a blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Speed Bumps and Sci Fi Foreign Relations

Barack Obama is getting criticized roundly for stating that the violence that hit our embassies was a "speed-bump" in the peace process.  Many are taking this to be an insult to the memory of Chris Stevens and the others who lost their lives in the attack.

I'm not a Barack Obama apologist, normally.  The phrasing was "inelegant," to borrow a term from Governor Romney.  But one thing that is clear to see, is that Barack Obama gets his view of foreign relations from science fiction, or at least shares the same with many science fiction writers.  It is seen all the time in shows like "Star Trek: Next Generation" and "Doctor Who."

The view is basically that a civilized culture will eventually EVOLVE to the point that they will eschew violence and provided that enough respect, encouragement, and communication happens, peace will come.  Obama, in his view, has extended the hand and tried to show that he was not going to get involved in the Middle East policies, especially jumping to Israel's defense, because he is an understanding, different kind of President who can see all sides.  He apologizes for past offenses, and tries to show us a much more humble, less arrogant nation.  The Middle East should respond, in his view.   However, while they continue to learn to trust and develop...the theory goes...there will be some who try to jeopardize the movement toward peace and how people respond to that can move the process forward, or kill it.

Watch an episode of TNG...happens all the time, when they are not dealing with some kind of rip in the Time Space Continuum.  Some Romulan will cause an explosion at a peace conference on the ship because while the wise old leader is tired of generations of war, there is some goofball who can't see shaking hands with the Vulcans or the Klingons or the Smurfs or something.  And then there is a huge speech about how important it is that this one incident doesn't get in the way of something truly momentous happening.  And things are good until another rip in the Time Space Continuum or the Holo-deck misfunctions.
(gratuitous picture of David Tennant)

It's there in Doctor Who, was the core belief of #10.  Everything can be solved by talking if only people would listen, even the Master (Ha!).  Number 11 professed it, too, particularly early on ...but is struggling with it now.

I am sure that this theory works in good time.  After all, there is peace in Ireland.  However, those who espouse the theory that eventually we will come to an understanding because in the end, we all want what's good always end up struggling with how to deal with the fact that sometimes there is just evil and people who just want power and domination.  There are people, countries, etc. who don't want to live side by side, who don't want to share...but want to have control.  And at those times, there is such a thing as a righteous war.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Figured it Out...I Think.

A few days ago, a person on my twitter feed that I occasionally converse with posted a statement about blogging writers block.  I commented that I hadn't been really able to write on my blog for about three years.

"Why do you think?"  she asked.

I couldn't answer.

The answer came to me tonight as I was reading the epilogue for "Bitter is the New Black" by Jen Lancaster.

When going through the application process for becoming missionaries (yeah, I still think, "Really, ME?  Are you kidding???)  a friend of mine who grew up in the mission field told me she put on her reference:

 "Lora would be a really good missionary because she has the ability to laugh at the absurd." 

I realize now that while I definitely have the ability to laugh at the absurd, I'd forgotten to do so.  Probably part of why the last few years have been very, very hard.

So here's to laughing at the absurd.  I wonder if I can somehow get that dang cat wallpaper back that I had a few years ago.  Just kidding.  Maybe.


Saturday, July 21, 2012


Today is the day we move out of the parsonage.  Please pray that everything goes smoothly.  Thanks!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


When we arrived at the parsonage for the first time, my friend Cynthia bestowed upon me a gift of sock yarn and some needles...and a Yankees garbage can, but that is another story entirely.

 I had never successfully knitted before, and she was determined that I would.  The yarn was called "Vegas Lights," both a tribute to my hometown and her love of bright colors.   I eventually knitted that ball of yarn into my first handmade pair of socks, and wore them until I wore them out.  Cynthia's philosophy was that if I learned to knit socks first, I'd never be scared of anything.  It worked, mostly. Knitting lace still petrifies me.

Today, as I prepare to move out of the same parsonage, she gave me another gift of sock yarn and needles (metal sock yarn needles...I'm really excited to try these babies out).  The color was touching and reflected another interest....I'm going to have Tardis blue socks!

Thank you, Cynthia.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Jeff's Final Sermon at Zion

Okay, yes, it does say 35 minutes. But it is a beautiful sermon, and I hope that you take the time to listen to it.

 I deluded myself into thinking I wasn't going to cry, today...but how could I not? The tears started coming the first hymn which was "Come Unto Me Ye Weary"(LSB 684). One of the unique features about our church is that "Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" is written on the front of the church. When we were here in seminary 15 years ago, I used to go driving up Coldwater, and when Jeff was called here, I remembered the church because of that.

And the tears came again when the Introit said "For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place."

"A Mighty Fortress" was the sermon hymn, and I know it was because at Jeff's installation, he didn't know that, in the Midwest, people stand for "A Mighty Fortress."  This time, he told me later, it got done right.  :)

Then three wonderful children were welcomed to The Table through the rite of First Communion Before Confirmation.  I am so proud of Zion for that; for studying and allowing allowing the children of the congregation to go to Communion when they were ready, not just when they were old enough, my children included.

One of the Communion hymns, "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus" has the line "Hark the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood."  Flood indeed.

The Farewell rite, too...started with part of our wedding text --  Philippians 1:3-6

And the hugs.  Lots of hugs.  Lots of tears.  Lots of joy, too. 

Not feeling too eloquent today....just contemplative.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

One thing that I am looking forward to when we go to Papua New Guinea is that I will be DONE with school.  I also will have less access to the distracting computer.  I want to start reading again for fun.  I thought this was an intriguing list.  It is the books that Rory Gilmore (character in the Gilmore Girls) has mentioned reading over the course of the show.  I got the list from It's Time to Read.

The ones in purple, I've read.  I think I might start working on the list over the next few years.

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer  - at least parts
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky  (well, started and gotten through the middle enough times to count)
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – read – 2009
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown – read
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll &Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien 
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isak Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee – read
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

There are definitely books on here that I really have no desire to read, and there are books by the same authors that I have read and loved.  But I would like to look back in five years and know that I have greatly increased the number of books that I have read!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Papua New Guinea's Border: I love this picture!

Papua New Guinea is predominantly a Christian country (91%).  But it shares the world's 2nd largest island with part of  predominantly Muslim Indonesia.
Add caption

Up at the top, in Vanimo, there is a border crossing, and facing outward into Indonesia is this: 

I love it.

(picture courtesy of Jaime at My Amazing Paradise, Papua New Guinea)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Long Journey

Not many people know this, but Jeff wanted to be a missionary when we started dating.  Actually, he's wanted to be a missionary since he was a kid.  When we met, and I started developing feelings for him, this really freaked me out.  Whenever I briefly (very briefly) thought of the possibility of being a missionary, I'd very quickly put it out of my head.

When my sister came up to camp to visit me that Summer, she asked if there were any guys in the picture. I replied, "There's one that I kind of like, I have no idea how he feels.  But he's going to be a missionary.  I don't see how that can work." 

Then my sister shocked me with the most "religious" advice she ever gave me.  "Lora, if God puts this man into your life, who are you to say no?"

Jeff went on a short term trip to India, but we agreed not to consider anything long-term until I got my Master's degree.  Life happened, and so did children, and my studies slowed to a snail's pace, and in the meantime, God called Jeff to serve some beautiful congregations in the United States.  We've been truly blessed by Mount Olive and Zion.

When we came back to Indiana, Jeff earned his STM, partially in the hopes of being able to do some short term teaching overseas, training pastors.  Working with field workers here has been one of his favorite parts of being here, and being able to teach at the seminary occasionally has been a great joy.

So when Jeff was asked to consider a call to a seminary to teach men to be pastors in Papua New Guinea, this time, it didn't seem freaky, not in the least.  It seemed right, to both of us.

So on Trinity Sunday, Jeff announced that he would be taking the call to Papua New Guinea that I very briefly mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It will be a long journey for us.  That Master's degree that I wanted to finish?  It will (God willing) be finished in April or May, but I have an internship first.  Chris has braces to finish with and is putting extra effort into getting his Eagle Scout done.  Jeff will need to work to raise funds.  I will help him where I can.

We will be going to orientation and then moving out of the parsonage into a house in Fort Wayne while we make these preparations.  Ten or eleven months is a long time, and I know that we have encountered Satan's attacks before while heading to a call.  God is merciful and gracious, but your prayers would be most welcome and desired.

God bless.

P.S.  If you want to see some amazing pictures of the general area we'd be living in, check out this post at My Amazing Paradise, Papua New Guinea.  Birip Mission Station is along the Highlands Highway, in between Wapanamanda and Wabag.  I'll post some other pictures soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Prayers, Please

Jeff has received a call from the LCMS Board of International Missions to serve as a theological trainer at Timothy Lutheran Seminary in Birip, Papua New Guinea. 

Please pray for us as we consider this possibility.

Please pray for the fifteen other possible missionaries who received calls to serve in various places.

Also, please pray for our congregation here at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church and for our brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea .

Further details in the near future  :D

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Beautiful Sermon

Pastor Esget posted his sermon on his blog for John 16:5-15.  It is REALLY worth reading. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

I Think I'm Turning Anglo-ese, I Really Think So

(I know there is no such word as Anglo-ese, but British doesn't work with the '80's song title)

Over the past couple of years, my family and I have become completely addicted to British t.v.  Doctor Who, Robin Hood, Downton Abbey, and Top Gear (my kids talk about putting the groceries in the boot, and have even mentioned the windscreen). 

I've been trying to fall asleep without the t.v. on, since the light is bad for the sleep cycle, and maybe many other things, but in order to have some noise, I've been loading the Netflix app on my cell phone, and playing Downton Abbey with the screen off.

I'm finding that when I wake up, I have a British accent for about five minutes.  When I demonstrated to my husband, he said "well, at least it is like the housemaid."  I can only he meant Anna and not Miss O'Brien.  :P

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Jesus at the Gate

At the Easter Vigil last night, the Old Testament text was where Abraham was told by God to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had faith that God would provide the lamb, and that even in the face of this, He had faith that God would keep His promise through Isaac. God blessed Abraham, and promised him that his seed would be more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sands on the shore. But not only that, he said "your offspring will possess the gate of his enemies."

Who in the end is man's enemy? Death. Who defeated death? The promised one from Abraham's line -- Jesus Christ. So now when we enter the gate of death, Christ holds the gate for us, and it is no longer our Enemy's territory, because Christ is victorious over death.

Alleluia. He is risen!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Just a Thought

I bet the LCMS changed the color of their cross because they wanted to match MY blog. I'm touched, guys!

A Promise Kept

Back in college, my friend Dave was one of the closest things we had to a hippy at our school, besides the jeans, t-shirts and, Goodwill vests, and sandals, he brought his guitar on campus all the time. He was going to teach me how to play.

So I asked my dad for a guitar. And my dad, who knew pawn shops were cool WAY before the History Channel, went and found me a 12 string Yamaha acoustic electric, complete with a plaquard underneath the hole that said "Praise the Lord." I almost died (after all, I'm a liturgical Lutheran)....but it was a nice guitar. I did say a prayer for the poor praise band guy who apparently had to hock his guitar. But the guitar came with a promise. I'd give it back if I didn't learn how to play it.

Right at that time, though, Dave got busy with a new girlfriend, and I took 24 credits trying to graduate before my wedding, and that got set aside. My dad never actually mentioned a deadline, so I still have the guitar. And today both Maggie and I are going to go have our first lesson.

Monday, March 12, 2012

This Past Winter

The temperature outside is a wonderful 60 degrees. Birds are singing outside my window. We've even had a couple of thunderstorms. Spring is here. There might be a little bit more snow here or there before things settle in, but it is SO nice.

Winters are usually a hard challenge for me. Cold descends and depression hits. This winter wasn't as bad. I'm not sure what made it easier. I'm sure the milder weather didn't hurt, because cold spells were interspersed between periods of weather in the 40's, which felt like 70, comparatively. The air was invigorating.

One other thing that I did as well, I supplemented with amino acid precursors. After studying how drugs work in the brain, I also ended up reading a book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, MA. The author stated that what antidepressants do (and other mood altering drugs), is that either they force the neurons to make a neurotransmitter that they may not really have the building blocks for and therefore strain the system, or prevent the reabsorption or "reuptake" of certain neurotransmitters. Having these present helps the brain to function, and helps to reglate mood.

Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids. According to Ross, the difference between treating inattention, depression, non-incident related anger, anxiety, and other problems is that the brain doesn't have enough of the amino acids to build off of. Antidepressants, caffeine, antianxiety drugs sometimes stop working because they continue to deplete the resources that are never quite built up.

So I decided to try her recommendations to see if they made a difference. The nice thing is, amino acid precursors are relatively easy to find, and not expensive. They often have "L-" in front of their names, because that indicates that they are a precursor. If you take an amino acid, it will not cross the blood-brain barrier, but the body can take the precursor- the building blocks of an amino acid, and use them to make them. The other nice thing is, according to Ross, is that they build up the body's supply. When you are resupplied, you don't need to take them anymore.

One of the ones I tried was L-Tyrosine. It is supposed to make you more alert, but generally not jittery. She has steps for determining the proper dose, so if you ever look into this more, please read her book.

This was recommended for lethargy, which is a big part of SAD. There was a side effect that I hadn't planned on. It made me jittery when I drank caffeine. I wasn't jittery normally, and caffeine normally doesn't make me jittery. I can drink it right before I sleep. It actually relaxes me. I didn't like that. Within a few days of starting the L-Tyrosine, I had NO DESIRE for caffeine. It wasn't that I was making a huge effort to get off of it. I just didn't want it. I did go through the headache and flu-like symptoms when I stopped, but got past that, and it was gone.

I stopped taking L-Tyrosine a couple of months ago; by the New Year. I just kind of stopped, which is what she said might happen if you had enough. I don't really crave caffeine at all now. I have an iced tea now and again, but it doesn't taste as good because the craving isn't making it taste as good.

My moods have been much more stable this Winter. I tend toward anger when I'm depressed. But mood-wise, it has been a very calm Winter as well. No rages, no sullenness. A few bouts of depression for a day here or there, but nothing that was really hard. I don't know for sure, but I think the caffeine was probably responsible for the mood swings as well. I know that it is responsible for a good portion of my touch sensitivity, because it comes back when I have one.

It's been nice to enjoy my kids and my husband this past Winter. I'm still REALLY glad that Spring is here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Promises, Promises

Thanks to Amazon Kindle's tons of free books that are available, I've been reading Martin Luther's Commentary on Genesis, which has been fairly fascinating.

In the story of Cain and Abel, Luther addressed a question that I have had for a long time. "If Cain was sentenced to roam, then why is it that he founded the first city?"

Luther compared Adam's being cast out of the Garden to when Cain was cast out. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, they had the promise of the Messiah and the promise of God's protection. Cain was not given that. He was not given a direction to go. He could go east, west, north, south. He could work hard to prosper, and have no promise that it would benefit him. He was cast away from his family, never to see them again, and no promise about his progeny and what would become of them.

So while Cain founded the first city, there was no promise that it would prosper and continue to prosper. There was no promise that his children would survive, and in fact, every descendant he had was destroyed in The Flood. Cain did not have God's blessing on what would come.

There were two things that God promised, though. If someone killed Cain, he would be severely punished, and that Cain would have a wife. Luther states that this was done for two reasons. It was an act of mercy that gave time for Cain to repent. It was also an act of "uncovenanted mercy" for the sake of the elect, so that those who were his descendents who were elect could be saved. Cain was meant to have children who would come to faith. After all, Seth's descendants would come into contact and even marry some of the descendants of Cain's, and hear the Word of God proclaimed.

There are two kinds of promises, Luther explains. The first, legal promises, depend on our own works. When God tells the Children of Israel that they will prosper as long as they keep His commandments, that is a legal promise. This also explains why God seems so "temperamental" and can change His mind when prophets beg God to stay his judgement and not destroy the people whenever He threatens to. God has every right to destroy the Israelites when they depart from His will at any time He wants, but He also can hold back and wait to see if they continue to rebel against His will.

The question "If thou doest well, shall not thy countenance be lifted up?" in Genesis 4:7, that is said to Cain is also of this type. And Luther points out that moral nations do tend to prosper and have better order than immoral nations. As Lutherans, we don't like to say "God sent this hurricane because of our wickedness" and in a sinful world, that is correct, we really cant judge whether or not an individual act is a punishment for wickedness. But on the whole, a nation that behaves well, prospers. Empires that fall into wickedness tend to decline.

But there is another type of promise, the promise of grace. These have no threats of what will happen if our end is not kept. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," "I will write the law in their inward parts, in their heart will I write it: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." are examples of promises of grace. Because He made these promises that were in no way dependent upon our works, He will keep them under any and all circumstances.

Adam had promises of grace. Cain also should've had that promise, a life that was guided by God that would also lead to the eventual birth of the Savior of mankind. But Cain killed his brother and refused to repent, refused to come to God for mercy. So Cain's direction would not be guided by God or blessed by God. That is what made Cain a vagabond and a wanderer.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Rights of Our Daughters

President Obama has stated that today, the 39th Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the United States is part of the work to “continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

Here's the innate problem, where we as a culture have messed up completely: Somewhere along the line, we've decided that the key to happiness has become what we do for a living, and that the dream of dreams is to have the job we want. One of the first questions we ask kids as we encounter them, the question we ask to get to know them is "what do you want to be when you grow up?" And we don't mean a husband or a wife, a mother or a father. Those are kind of taken for granted. We'll probably all do that, and because of birth control, we'll do that when it is most convenient for us. And if our husband or wife gets in the way of the dream for a career, or they want more time and consideration than our career will afford them, then we can divorce them. If our kids need someone to look out for them, we have daycare.

We don't raise our sons to view the role of husband to be the most important and desired. We don't raise our daughters to prize the role of wife and to put it first.

As a culture, marriage and parenthood are accessories to a good life, and that good life comes from the job. Personal meaning and self-worth come from the job. And the weird thing is, the receptionist who makes $9.00 an hour thinks this as much as the CEO who makes a million a year. And as Pastor Christopher Gillespie asks so eloquently today, " Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? "

Raising children is rough, and it certainly can get in the way of reaching our personal dreams of wealth, career, and freedom. But in the end, if the primary value is that our true purpose is found within our family, and that being a husband or a wife is where our prime focus is, and when men have the same concept of responsibility to family and self-sacrifice, then their dreams are second to providing for the family as well.

When marriage is out of the picture in relationship to children, it does all fall on the woman. And when sex, rather than marriage is valued, then it all falls down and it becomes okay to kill another human being, worse yet, one's own children, in order to reach your own personal dream.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romney's Constitution Question

I'm not a Mitt Romney apologist, but he's come under fire for this statement here....

But the criticism is entirely unfair. He was being trapped.

In 2003, Rick Santorum came under criticism because he disagreed with the 1965 Supreme Court decision of Griswald vs. Connecticut. This case has been used to argue that homosexuality, abortion, polygamy, etc. are constitutional, because the Court determined that there is an extended right to privacy in the Constitution. However, originally, the case was about the state of Connecticut's right to ban the sale of contraceptives. Back in 1965, a lot of states banned this. As Romney stated, there isn't a state out there now that even wants to ban the sale of contraceptives. With socialized medicine and welfare, it is a lot cheaper to prevent the birth of a child than to provide medical care and food for that child.

However, Romney is in a dubious place. As a former Mormon bishop, if he says no, states do not have this right, he risks ticking off the Mormon church, whose theology encourages large families. If he says yes, in principle, he alienates almost everyone else who believes that sexuality without procreation is a human right.

Romney made a dodge of the issue, which really is a complete non-issue. A rather clumsy dodge, but a dodge all the same. He wasn't saying that he didn't know the Constitution, but that he was passing it off on someone else, since it was clearly a stupid question. But I believe (and I am not sure) that Romney's health care program provided for birth control.

However, what this makes clear is that the media is gearing up on a full-court press on Santorum, and they are attempting to determine what others are going to say on this matter.