Thursday, July 31, 2008
If you are a less-than-thrilled conservative voter who is still struggling with voting for John McCain, or if you are a McCain voter who needs some good ammunition for winning over more people to the cause, here is an article for you. It is an excellent summary of why one can and should vote for McCain and be completely at peace with that vote. It also effectively refutes the argument that we might as well go ahead and let Obama have his turn at the White House now because in doing so we will reveal the emperor's lack of clothes and open the door for a comeback in 2012. The problem with that thinking is that although I expect an Obama presidency would be a failure and would likely lead to Republicans retaking the White House in four years, serious and irreparable damage would be done in the meantime. Read and see why.
Forget Train Wreck: Obama is a Jet Crash - by Kyle-Anne Shiver
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
What we eat a lot or fairly often
Lettuce - iceberg, romaine, red-leaf
Tomatoes (I know they're not technically vegetables, but I'm including them anyway)
Sugar snap peas
What we eat sometimes or rarely
Corn (only the kids and I--my husband can't digest it)
Lima beans (husband loves them but the rest of us don't share his enthusiasm)
White potatoes (Husband is a low-carb eater, so I don't make them very much)
Cucumber (only my daughter and I like them)
Mushrooms (are these considered to be vegetables?)
What we don't eat but should
Okra--I am a Southern-born girl who grew up eating okra. I'm not sure why I don't ever cook it because I do like it!
What we don't eat but ought to try
What we don't eat and probably never will
Yellow squash--I just like zucchini so much more
Brussel sprouts--I don't have a clear memory of ever eating them, but for some reason I have a very bad feeling about them
What I have gleaned from this exercise is that there are certain things I don't make very often because a few people in the family don't like or eat them, and that ends up limiting the scope of our diet. I think I really need to start making some of those less popular items in smaller quantities. Just because a few people don't like them doesn't mean the others shouldn't enjoy them! It does mean a bit more work and dishes to clean. But I think the result would be worth it.
Monday, July 28, 2008
A day without sunshine is like . . . night.
On the other hand, you have different fingers.
42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
Remember, half the people you know are below average.
He who laughts last thinks slowest.
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.
Friday, July 25, 2008
"Does Bethany offer contemporary worship? Does Bethany have traditional services? Worship at Bethany is both--and neither. Like many parishes, Bethany seeks to unite God's family in worship that rises above stylistic preferences.
Christian worship begins with the crucified Christ, who comes to us in Word and Sacrament. he brings to the people of God forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. We in turn extol these gifts with joyful thanksgiving and praise, proclaiming the story of God's love through His Word. This celebration is done in concert with the Church throughout the world, and finds its expression in the liturgy. Lutheran worship is therefore traditional in that it is part of the timeless culture of the Church, and contemporary in that it communicates the Gospel in ways that are appropriate to a given place and time. Since worship is the vocation of all bapitzed Christians, Lutheran liturgy calls for all individuals to do their parts, that faith may be increased among all who worship, and that Christ may be most strongly confessed before the world.
Providing worship that achieves these noble ends is the responsibility of any Christian congregation. Continuing in the the tradition of the evangelical Lutheran communion, the Divine Service at Bethany seeks therefore to involve all who gather in the name of the Lord in the proclaiming, confessing, singing, and praying of God's Word."
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
They decided to find out, and the result was Liturgy Solutions, Inc. Three years later, they have an answer to their question: "Yes!" Liturgy Solutions is still around, and while their customer base is still small, it is growing, as is their inventory and the range of services which they offer. This week Liturgy Solutions is thrilled to announce its newly redesigned website. If you ever visited the old site, I think you'll be impressed by the changes. Content is daily being added and minor changes being made, so be patient as things continue to get tweaked. But do pay them a visit: a little poking around will be rewarded by the discovery of a brand new blog, Fine Tuning, which will serve as a forum for discussing all things musical and liturgical. And if you do drop by the blog, consider leaving Stephen and Phil a note of encouragement. And be sure to check back all this week as the LCMS Institute on Preaching and the Liturgy gets underway. It should be quite a ride!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Now, while all my confessional Lutheran friends are picking their jaws up off the floor, let me explain. By contemporary I don't mean that we had projection screens or rock music or dancing girls or heavily amplified and emotive songleaders or any of the things with which the word "contemporary" has come to be associated when speaking of worship.
What I mean instead is "happening, existing, living or coming into being during the same period of time" (source). And by that definition, all worship is inherently contemporary, happening at a given moment in time when a community comes together to hear the Word of God and receive His sacraments.
Now it just so happens that we did do some contemporary music last week. A lot of it. But contemporary music and "contemporary" worship (again, according to the common use of the term) are two different things. While the Church does well to draw from the great treasury of music that has been handed down to us in the form of historic hymns and settings of the liturgy, it also does well to avail itself of the excellent work being created by gifted hymnists and composers of our own time. And that is what we did--extensively--at my parish last week.
Of the six hymns sung during the two communion services offered last week, three were written--both text and tune--in the 20th century. Here are the hymns we sang last Sunday; numbers 1, 2, and 6 on the list pre-date the 20th century, while numbers 3, 4, and 5 were all published within the last 30 years.
"Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty" (LSB 901)
"Almighty God, Your Word is Cast" (LSB 577)
"The Tree of Life" (LSB 561)
"Your Kingdom, O God, Is My Glorious Treasure" (LSB 654)
"You Satisfy the Hungry Heart" (LSB 641)
"Father, We Thank Thee" (LSB 652)
In addition to the above hymns, we sang a recently completed setting of the Divine Service by my husband, the Cantor at our congregation. Much of it was composed several years ago when our church body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, was putting together a new hymnal. At that time composers were invited to submit new settings of the liturgy, and although none was ultimately chosen for inclusion in the hymnal, our congregation served as something of a "guinea pig" for my husband's work and as a result learned much of the mass he had composed. Last year while taking a class in composing for the liturgy, he fine-tuned and added to what he had previously written, including not only ordinaries but propers for a selected day of the church year. So when that day rolled around this year, it seemed fitting for our congregation to sing his mass in its entirety. You can hear the result here. If you are able to listen to even a little, you will observe singing that is joyful and robust, in spite of the congregation's unfamiliarity with certain parts of this liturgy. That, in my opinion, is a testament to their strength as a singing body, their love for the liturgy, and their trust in the Cantor who has led them in song for over 8 years now. It was a special Sunday for everyone who took part.
Reflecting on the service, however, it occurs to me that a visitor might have felt a little off balance. Even if that visitor were a strong singing and music-reading Lutheran, he would have found himself singing a setting of the liturgy which he had never heard before. As a Lutheran who finds myself on occasion worshipping in another parish, I know how much I appreciate (and expect) a degree of familiarity with the worship at a sister congregation. After all, we are members of the same church body, right? And we share a hymnal, right? And a love for the historic liturgy?
Unfortunately, such is not always the case, and over the years I have too often found myself in a "Lutheran" church that seems to have very little about it that seems Lutheran. So if one of my Lutheran friends had been at Bethany last Sunday, I probably would have worried a little about the possibility of their not feeling completely at home. At the same time, as I think about the services where I have felt like a fish out of water, they have involved not a different setting of the liturgy, but a wholesale tossing of that liturgy and a replacing of it with something altogether different, including pastor-written creeds and confessions and contemporary Christian praise choruses instead of the words of the historic liturgy and theologically rich hymnody.
We had none of that last Sunday. We did have 20th and 21st-century hymns, and we did have some new music in the form of unfamiliar melodies. But those melodies were composed to accompany the Word of God as it is found in the liturgy, not the subjective thoughts and feelings of a Christian radio artist. So while visitors might have found themselves uncertain of some of the notes they were supposed to sing, they would have still been able to feast on the Word, soaking it in throughout the service as it was sung with gusto by the choir and congregation and with that strong leadership, even joining in themselves.
When it comes to music for the liturgy, cantors and pastors have a fine line to walk between the two extremes of "old" and "new." In that which is "old" there is familiarity and security and time-tested excellence. In the "new" there is the potential for fresh musical expressions of the faith that speak with particular effectiveness to the saints of God in a certain time and place. At Bethany last week we had both: the oldness of the historic liturgical texts combined with the newness of music written by Bethany's Cantor. And the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. I think we're going to sing this music again.
Speaking of "old" and "new," I think it is instructive to share this story: after one of the services last weekend, our pastor was approached by an older gentleman of the congregation. As any pastors or musicians reading well know, having a parishioner come up after the service can be good, or it can be bad. My husband has over the years had both, believe me, and is thus always prepared for either possibility. As it happens, this was by far in the category of "good." For this gentleman proceeded to tell the pastor that the liturgy he had just sung was the best one he had ever heard in his 70-plus years of attending Lutheran worship. It is an understatement to say that my husband was honored.
So yes, we did contemporary worship last week. But in the liturgy we also worshiped with the whole company of Heaven and all the saints who have gone before, and in so doing we experienced eternity.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Vacation Bible School is in full swing and going better than I could have imagined (if you discount yesterday's hysterical display from a certain Cantor's child). Unter Cantor and I are leading the preschool music, and we make a great team, if I do say so myself. The Cantor's older two children are cheerfully helping out, too, which is good, because we have about 75 preschoolers in four rotating groups coming to see us for 20 minutes each morning. We are learning some liturgy and singing some classic preschool favorites as well. And I dare say we have the easiest and most fun job at VBS, sailing in and out as the cool "music people" each day while the teachers do the real work of preparing lessons and managing their young charges.
Along with VBS, we are working hard on the soon-to-be-revealed new and improved Liturgy Solutions website (complete with blogging cantors--yay!). Actually, I have not contributed nearly as much to this project as Phil, Trevor and Caitlin (Trevor especially has taken the task to heart and has spent hours and hours loading up new product for the site). But I think they are giving me a pass since while they work on the site I am taking care of the decidedly unglamorous yet important tasks of keeping people fed and clothed.
Finally, we are busily preparing to depart in a few days for our denomination's national worship conference to be held in Seward, Nebraska. The whole family will be involved in some way--myself as an accompanist, Trevor and Caitlin as choristers, and Evan as one of the young models in a workshop on singing with children. And of course our main reason for attending is that ny husband is a keynote speaker and presenter, so he has been working hard on his speech (which is awesome, by the way--I hope if you will not be in attendance that you will eventually be able to read it here or elsewhere) while the rest of us are trying to get the house cleaned up for our housesitters (the aforementioned Unter Cantor and her husband). Don't want them thinking we live like this (even though we do)!
More later (I hope)!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I also hope Evan Essence brings the occasional smile or chuckle to your day. And thanks to Elephant's Child, from whom I stole this idea.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
In case you are unfamiliar with Amish Friendship Bread (you can read more at the link above), it involves a 10-day fermenting process from the day that the starter is received. On Days 1-5 the recipient is simply supposed to "mush the bag"; on Day 6, flour, sugar and milk are added; Days 7-9 require more mushing; and Day 10 calls for separating out new starter to save and/or share before adding the final round of ingredients and baking. I received my starter on Day 6 after the mid-point ingredients had already been added, so all that was left for me was some waiting and mushing and then baking on Day 10.
Well, I am here to state for the record that I am now an official Amish Friendship Bread Failure. Day 10 came and went; then Day 11; then Day 12, and still no bread baked. This morning as I gazed upon my lonely, little neglected bag of starter and pondered the week before me (a week that includes Vacation Bible School, a chess tournament, housecleaning, and mad preparations for an upcoming two-week road trip), I had to come to grips with the reality that Amish Friendship Bread and I were never meant to be--at least not at this time in my life--and it was time to say good-bye. So down the drain it went with--I am sad to say--very little ceremony or fanfare. My only consolation is that I am not the only Starter Killer walking around. (I guess we can just add this to that growing list of things we have in common, Elephant's Child. By the way, I think it's time for you to put that poetic bent to work and write an "Ode to Friendship Bread Starter." Let me know when you're finished and I'll provide free editing. It's the least we can do, don't you think? We'll give the finished product to Melody to make up for our shameful handling of her good faith gift.)
I'm talking about the intentional display of bra straps by many of my gender. When I was younger, a peek-a-boo bra strip was a fashion faux pas, one that I did everything possible to avoid, from wearing strapless bras (ouch) to pinning my bra straps to the inside of my tank tops. But now it seems we have shifted 180 degrees in the other direction, turning bra straps into a fashion accessory, so much so that many of the bras I see worn these days are designed with coordinated colors and decorative accents that are obviously intended to be seen. In addition, the revealing of straps seems to be a completely respectable fashion choice by girls and women of all ages in any setting, because I see them everywhere, including in church on Sunday morning.
Am I missing something here? Because to me there is just something inappropriate about intentionally revealing what is basically a piece of underwear. I don't like it when I see young men walking around with their underwear poking out above their pants; why is it any more proper for a girl to show her bra? It's one thing to have it slip out accidentally; it's another to make a conscious choice to do so. To me there will always be an element of titillation involved in such a display, and while it is a natural part of femininity to take steps to enhance one's appearance, it is another thing to overtly tempt or tease. And while I realize that the bra strap fashion might not even reveal as much skin as some other things that could be worn, I still think the style has its root in an effort to be "naughty" by showing a part of one's attire that historically was not intended to be shown.
Just call me Queen Victoria.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I wasn't sure what she meant and said so.
"For president. I like John McCain. If I could vote, I would vote for him. Who do you like?"
I told her that I, too, liked John McCain and was planning on voting for him, and I went on to ask why he was her favorite.
"Because he will keep things the same. And I like the way things are. I don't want them to change. Also, he looks kind of like President Bush, and I like President Bush."
It would seem that--at least with this young future voter--two of Barack Obama's primary themes are actually reasons to vote against him: namely, that he wants to change what America is all about and that he would repudiate the policies of President Bush while John McCain would sustain and continue them.
Now, I understand that my piano student is probably reflecting the views of her parents. But I think her 7-year-old spin on the election is also profoundly revealing, distilling the choice before us quite effectively. At his core, Barack Obama wants to remake America, finding little to love about it, whereas McCain as a conservative (and yes, I believe he is one) finds much worth preserving. It is for this reason that I think my husband hit the nail on the head when he told me, some months ago, that if the United States elects Barack Obama we will have our first European president. The Anchoress argues similarly in this post (if you have time, follow her link to the Gateway Pundit for some additional perspective).
So I'm with you, Evelyn. I like our country, too, and concur that change is overrated. Let's hope the majority of Americans agree with us.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Below is the best summary I have ever seen of why this law is not only a bad idea but is ultimately unconstitutional. If you can, please take five minutes and listen to Representative Ted Poe (Texas) on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as he outlines reasons for the Congress to reconsider this flagrant abuse of power. (His remarks were made in May of this year.)
What was I doing 10 years ago?
Let's see, that would be 1998. At the time I had been married for 11 years and had two children ages 6 and 3. We were living in Peoria, Illinois, where my husband was serving as Cantor at the downtown Lutheran church. I was teaching freshman English Composition at Illinois Central College and accompanying the Peoria Area Youth Chorus, which my husband directed. We lived in a nice 3-bedroom split foyer home in West Peoria with an awesome back yard, and I didn't appreciate the simplicity of our life at the time.
What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
Catch up on the laundry, email and blog reading after a weekend away from home.
Read through and give feedback on the speech my husband is writing.
Do some planning for Vacation Bible School.
Get allergy shots.
Go grocery shopping.
Snacks I enjoy:
My favorite snack is a cup of coffee and something sweet.
Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Pay off all debt and invest enough money to live on without having to work.
Establish trusts for the charities of my choice.
Send the kids to college.
Fix/update everything in our house that needs it and then sell it and buy my dream house.
Hire a maid.
Places I have lived:
Texas: Austin & surrounding area; Denton; Houston & surrounding area
Illinois: Peoria & Chicagoland
Jobs I have had:
Grocery store cashier.
Drug store cashier.
Health clinic receptionist.
Marketing research interviewer.
Secretary to an insurance salesman.
Junior high, high school, and college English teacher.
6 peeps I would like to know more about
I need to get to work on that task list mentioned above, so I'm going to leave it at three:
Michelle D. (I already know a lot about her, but she hasn't blogged in a while, so I'm hoping this will encourage her.)
Friday, July 4, 2008
And if you have a moment, pay a visit to the Department of Defense site Show Your Support to see all the ways we at home can express our appreciation to those who daily sacrifice of themselves for the benefit of us all.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Yet I must say that I have come to appreciate city life, especially as it is manifested here in Chicago, my home now of more than 8 years. Chicago summers are like nothing else, much preferable to the oppressive heat (whether sticky or dry) that I grew up with in Texas. I love taking a walk in sixty degrees on a July morning and then having it warm up to a tolerable eighty-two as the day progresses. I know--we have dog days of summer here, too--but they don't last nearly as long as down south! (The winters, of course, are another story . . . but we won't think about that right now.)
Aside from the climate, the other best aspect of Chicago is, well . . . Chicago, and all that it has to offer. Eight years and counting and there is still so much that we have not done. We have made it to the Art Institute, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, and the Sears Tower (family, am I forgetting anything?). And we have taken in some top-rung entertainment, attending concerts by the likes of James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Bruce Hornsby, the Police, and Chicago A Cappella, as well as hearing Handel's Messiah at Symphony Center. And we have seen a couple of great shows. A few years back it was Monty Python's Spamalot with my husband; this past weekend it was Wicked with my daughter.
Here we are preparing to leave for our excellent Chicago adventure:
The show played at the Ford Center Oriental Theater (a gorgeous venue) on Randolph: here's a shot of the marquee.
And here she is again on the sidewalk outside.
The show was fabulous--even better than I imagined--and the production top-knotch. I have never been to a Broadway production, but my guess is they have nothing on Chicago. Much of the current Chicago cast has at other times played their role on Broadway. The show has been playing here since 2005 and will finally end its run in January of 2009.
Click here to read more about the history of Wicked. And if you get a chance to see it, go. It truly is a great story, one that made me laugh and cry, and there is not a weak song in the bunch. (You know how in some shows you wait through the mediocre songs to get to the good ones? Not here.)
Caitlin and I wrapped up our day by meeting up for supper with a friend who was in town on business. And guess what? I drove downtown and back without incident! There are those reading who will scratch their heads in wonder at this revelation, having ridden with me in Chicago on other occasions (let's not talk about it, okay?). The Sunday afternoon train schedule is rather limited, so rather than get into town over two hours early, I elected to drive. With the help of my husband's directions (and one short phone call home after the parking garage exit turned out to be on a different street than I came in on), I managed to get us downtown and home no worse for the wear.
It was the kind of day of which memories are made, and I am so thankful for a husband that understands (better than I sometimes) the value of that and is willing to occasionally sacrifice practicality for the sake of something that will outlast any thing we could have purchased instead.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
My husband sent this to me with the following words: "Didn't realize just how much he's missed, until I read and remembered some of the stuff he said . . . and stood for."
Take a few moments and remember the wisdom of Ronald Reagan. We sure could use him now.
Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.
The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.
Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.
I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.
The taxpayer: that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.
Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.
It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.
Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.
No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.