". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why It's Good to Have Older Siblings Visit from College

They remind you it's not all about you. Case in point below.

Scenario 1
13-year-old to his mother:

"Wanna know something crazy?"

"Sure!"

Scenario 2
13-year-old to his 21-year-old sister:

"Wanna know something crazy?"

"Do I have to?" 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Really, CNN?


I just read this article from CNN on the unveiling of the Republican Obamacare replacement plan. On first reading, I counted nine--NINE!--errors in usage and mechanics. For fun, I'll reproduce below the sentences that contain errors. Can you find the mistakes? Pull out your red pen and have at it. If you find all of them, maybe you can get a job proofreading for CNN. They obviously need the help!

1. It also largely would keep Obamacare's protections of those with pre-existing conditions, but allows insurers to charge higher premiums to those who let their coverage lapse.

2. "President Trump looks forward to working with both Chambers of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare."

3. The House plan would also retain the so-called Cadillac tax -- which has never gone into affect -- in order to hit the budget targets required under the maneuver used to pass the bill, called budget reconciliation.

4. Still, Republican leaders are committed to moving forward with major tenants of the legislation . . . .

5. The GOP bill also includes a provision to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which is something Republicans has vowed to do for years citing concerns over the use of taxpayer money for abortion services. (This one has two!)

6. Planned Parenthood has warned that cutting off their funding will have major impact on Medicaid recipients, millions of whom obtain health care services in their clinics. (Okay, I guess I'm being a little picky here. But still.)

7. Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas and the House Ways and Means chairman, said in a written statement, "our legislation transfers power from Washington back to the American people. . . ." (Again, picky.)

8. Republican leaders have worked aggressively to forge consensus with their members in listening sessions and meetings behind closed doors in recent weeks, but the divides between conservatives and moderates, and those between moderates and lawmakers from states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare are not going away.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

Thus It Is Written

Sebastian Bourdon, Burning Bush, Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered why God doesn't talk to us today the way He talked to Noah, Abraham, and Moses? Sometimes it can seem like He's ignoring us. Why is He being silent when we need Him so much? In our family devotion today we imagined what it would be like if we had a burning bush in the back yard that we could consult whenever we needed guidance or encouragement.

But could it be that in not continuing to reveal Himself to us as He did to our forebears in the Bible, and in not revealing Himself to us in new and different ways after revealing Himself to us through His Son, He is protecting us? Can you imagine if God were running around the world today, talking to this person and that person, appearing on top of a skyscraper here and a mountain there? How confusing it would be as we tried to sort it all out. Who really talked to God? Who is just saying he did? Whom should we trust? Whom should we ignore? There are enough false teachers as it is. Can you imagine how many more there would be claiming direct revelation if God had the habit of dropping in on people today?

I have sometimes felt like maybe the Deists had the right idea--that God the watchmaker designed and wound up the world but is just now watching and waiting while it runs itself down. Why is He so silent? Doesn't He care?

Yes. He cares. And certainly God can do what He wants and at any moment He could decide to show up in your living room or mine and engage us in conversation. But what more can He say than He's already said? What more do we need Him to say? In today's Treasury of Daily Prayer, there is this comfort from Martin Chemnitz:

"At one time God revealed His Word by various ways and means. For sometimes, appearing Himself to the holy fathers, He spoke in their presence, sometimes through prophets inspired and moved by His Spirit; finally He spoke to mankind through His Son and the apostles. . . . But He gave us neither command nor promise to expect that kind of inspirations or revelations. Yet for the sake of posterity He saw to it that this Word of His, first revealed by preaching and confirmed by subsequent miracles, was later put into writing by faithful witnesses. And to that very same Word, comprehended in the prophetic and apostolic writings, He bound His church, so that whenever we want to know or show that a teaching is God's Word, this should be our axiom: Thus it is written; thus Scripture speaks and testifies."

We don't need our own personal burning bush. We already have one in a God who has fully revealed Himself to us through His Son, and who continues to do so today. In His Word and Sacrament we need not wonder if it's really God coming to us or someone just pretending to speak for God. We need not try to sift through all the noise to locate the truth. Instead, we can rest in the security of what God has already promised and not worry that He's ever going to change, add to, or subtract from that promise. In a world in which information is the new currency and there are many and varied voices continually coming at us from all directions, our God is "silent" not because He doesn't care about us, but because He does.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Full Circle

A little over two weeks from now, February 22, will be the one-year anniversary of my mom's death. A few weeks ago her burial marker was finally placed.



The schedule is very full right now, and my plan was to go see the marker on February 22, as my mom is buried over a half hour away from our house. But Monday of this week was lovely weather-wise as well as being my husband's day off, and he offered to drive me to the cemetery. As soon as we got there I smacked my head. Should have brought flowers for the vase! We drove to a nearby grocery store to buy a bunch.

Having been recently laid, the marker was dirty with disturbed earth. We rubbed it off as best we could. Mom was buried in a section of the cemetery where only flat markers of a certain size are allowed, so between that and available funds I was somewhat limited in my options. But I am pleased with how it came out. I have previously written about the background of the verse. I decided to use the translation from my mom's Bible (the Saint Joseph edition of the New American Bible).

Another item that may be approaching closure is a small decorative chalkboard in our kitchen. On the night my mom died, Evan wrote this message on it:


The message is still there. We decided to leave it for Evan to erase, and he has not done so yet. But it feels like we need to close this chapter, too, and we are thinking February 22 is a logical date to do it. The thing is, while Evan may be ready, I wonder if I am?


Friday, January 20, 2017

Our Strange Western Sun


A few days ago I was reading to Evan from our current readaloud Johnny Tremain. Johnny Tremain is a boy growing up in Boston at the time of the American Revolution, witnessing events and people firsthand that we today only encounter in history books and movies. At the point we are in our reading, the British army is occupying Boston but no shots have yet been fired. They are about to be, and the chapter we just finished ends with a reference to "a strange new sun rising in the west . . . that was to illumine a world to come."

I wanted to make sure Evan understood the comparison of America to a sun--one whose rise would shine a beacon of freedom over the entire world. I started questioning him, trying to pull the answer out rather than just give it to him, but it took some doing, which surprised me. Then he said, "America isn't as free as it used to be" and I realized that the equating of my country with freedom which is in my mind a given, something I grew up with and feel at a gut level, was not as natural an association for him. Wow. It drove home for me that at the age of 13 the only president he has any memory of is Barack Obama, and what he has heard from his parents for much of his life is talk about how our freedoms in this country are being eroded and how the federal government continues to extend its reach and control beyond what it is Constitutionally given to do. It made me sad.

I told Evan that the peaceful transition of power that we are seeing today, Inauguration Day, is a testament to the freedom that we still have in the United States of America. I am thankful beyond words to have been born an American. I would not want to have been born anywhere else. God bless our country, its outgoing President, and the President-Elect. May we never take for granted the amazing gift we have been given to live under this strange western sun known as America.