". . . 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)

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Setback for the Brothers

If you've tried to visit the Brothers of John the Steadfast site today you have probably encountered some difficulty. Be assured the problem does not rest with your computer but with the site. It seems their host is having problems, resulting in several sites, including the Brothers', going down. Talk about bad timing. From what I understand, BJS went black at about 3:00 p.m. CST today, just as Issues, Etc. was making its long-awaited return to the air. It's enough to make one think someone is out to get us. Hmmmm, now who could that be? Who would want to discourage those who are making it their mission to uphold and defend the true faith? Who, indeed?

Please pray for this young effort that has come so far so fast and yet still has so much to do, that whatever the problem is it might be quickly resolved and that in the meantime those who have worked so hard might be steadfast in the face of adversity, walking by faith and not by sight as they trust in Him whose Word will not be silenced.

Update: The Brothers are back! As of 10:00 p.m. CST the site is up and running. Praise God!

The View from Within

Here are two more articles, one dated today, about the assault on individual freedom in Canada. Both are from writer David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen.

The Resistance Must Continue - June 30, 2008

Deafening Silence - June 12, 2008

Who Do We Want to Be?

Last week I wrote about some worrisome things happening in Canada. Here's one more I recently came across, highlighting the Canadian government's increasing hostility to religious freedom:

Canada Orders Christian Ministry Shut Down (HT: Sound Witness)

Why should we care about what's going on in Canada? Well, according to the Washington Times, an Obama presidency would mean a push towards making America look a lot more like our northern neighbor:

Obama's America is Canada

This election is pivotal for many reasons. And one of the questions facing us is whether we want to remain distinctly American or become just another essentially European nation, as our friends in Canada have decided to do. In spite of what seems to be a creeping socialistic mindset in our own country, I still think most Americans retain that independent, individualistic streak that has long been at the core of our strength. And I don't think we want to lose it. But if we wake up in January of 2009 to an Obama presidency, we may need to prepare to do just that.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


We had our second meeting of the Steadfast Quarterly staff yesterday, led by editor-in-chief Pastor "Fritz" Baue. All I can say is, "He likes us; he really, really likes us!"

I think I can stop holding my breath now. Maybe this editor's hat is going to fit after all.

Lutheran Hospitality

A few weeks ago my husband took my son to Cleveland for a weekend chess tournament. Knowing that there were some fellow homeschooling Lutherans who lived in the area, I went begging online for a place for my loved ones to stay. From past experience, we know the cost of these tournaments adds up quickly, and a big part of that cost is due to hotel stays. If we could avoid several days of that expense, we could cut our overall cost significantly (and frankly, if we hadn't found free accommodations, we could not have afforded this tournament).

Well, within an hour of my call for help, I had an offer. Marie N., whom I have never met but with whom I have been corresponding with for a while now via our blogs, contacted me to offer hers and her husband's home to my chess pilgrims. Details were quickly worked out, and the following weekend my husband and son had the pleasure of meeting this lovely family.

Here are Marie and her husband Rick :

Here is their daughter, "The Artist":

And here is their son, "The Scientist."

This family let my family into their home sight unseen, having only "met" through email and blogging. If Marie had called me up, we would have gladly done the same. What would possess someone to do that? Especially in this day and age?

I think it all boils down to world view. Marie and I are alike in several critical, life-defining ways. Number one, we are both confessional Lutherans, and that identity informs all other aspects of our lives. Number two, we are both homeschoolers. There are other things we have in common, but these two are the most significant, because they indicate a set of deeply shared values and a way of looking at the world that others are sometimes puzzled by. It helps that because Marie and I belong to this relatively small community of folks known as "confessional Lutheran homeschoolers" we run in similar circles and know some of the same people. And because we value this community so highly, we all tend to leap at opportunities to meet each other and develop flesh and blood connections with those with whom we already share so much.

Thank you, Marie and Rick, for opening your home to my family. They were blessed by their time among you, and I hope you were as well. Please let us know if we can ever return the favor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Check It Out

The new BJS (Brothers of John the Steadfast) website is up and running. You can find it at www.steadfastlutherans.org.

You can find an online version of the new Steadfast Quarterly (my baby) here. Let me know what you think (but please be kind--this managing editor hat is a new one for me).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What is Going on Up North?

It seems every time I turn around there's a new headline highlighting the erosion of Canadian individual rights and the expansion of the nanny state. In just the past couple of weeks I have read about a Canadian judge overturning a father's grounding of his 12-year-old daughter and the Canadian government's move to require prescriptions for vitamins. Meanwhile, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has been attacking free speech with a vengeance, as evidenced by the bringing of charges against author Mark Steyn and publisher Ezra Levant.

Americans should pay attention. There are many in our own country (and I think the Democratic presidential nominee is one) who share the philosophy that the government knows what is best for us and should therefore be allowed to continue its creeping intrusion into all aspects of our lives. If we aren't careful the day may come that the image of America Alone will be a mere memory as America becomes indistinguishable from the European community.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sabbatical Update

Two weeks to go with husband at home. How wonderful the last four weeks have been. And believe it or not, I'm not panicking about having to return to normal life. This time has done us all such good, because his sabbatical has become ours as well. In addition to tackling some long-overdue household tasks (thanks for the elbow grease on that shower stall, honey!), we have enjoyed some priceless family time, playing games, watching movies, singing together, and focusing more on cooking and eating.

Here's a recent dish cooked up by Chef Phil and his assistant, Caitlin: chicken & vegetable stir-fry (I can take credit for some of the chopping).

In addition to working around the house and focusing on his professionally-oriented sabbatical activities, the Cantor has been walking and exercising every day, and I have been walking a lot more than usual. After a short hiatus from French class (mostly for my benefit), we have taken it back up again, and I have found that a calmer, more rested mind can learn more effectively than an exhausted, stressed out one (who would have thunk it?). The older two children are close to finishing their math books for the year, and we are taking a relaxed approach to our ongoing history study (we are doing the classical 4-year sequence in about 6 years). We have been getting doctor, dentist, and veterinary appointments out of the way, working in the yard (it looks better this year than it ever has, but there is still so, so much to do), and going through piles and boxes of stuff, getting rid of what we don't need and organizing the rest. And we got our passports for our upcoming trip to Grenada! (All of this while continuing to invest significant energy towards the new Lutheran organization, Brothers of John the Steadfast.)

I have made some progress on my personal task list as well. First priority was cleaning the master bedroom, which has been neglected for far too long. My general approach seems always to give preference to the rest of the house (because that's what people see, after all), saving our bedroom for when I have more time (which of course I never do) and making it the repository for all the stuff I can't figure out what to do with. So the piles grow and the dust accumulates and I almost hate to go into my own room. That is not how it should be. A friend mentioned to me a philosophy that the master bedroom should be the most important room in the house, a sanctuary for Mom & Dad, a place for them to go for relaxation and time together. Our room has not been that for a long time. So last weekend (while my husband and son were out of town), I gave it some much needed attention. I'm so proud of the result I just have to share it.

Here's my dresser (look Ma, no clutter! . . . although if you look very closely you can see some paperwork and storage boxes hiding behind the far end of the dresser under my laptop--those boxes contain at least a day's worth of sorting, filing and organizing.)

Here's our bed, purchased several years ago. It is the first real bed--meaning not just a frame but something with rails and a headboard and footboard--that we have ever had.

Opposite the bed is our desk and entertainment area (I know the picture is dark, but that's a television and CD player on the left). According to the previously mentioned sanctuary philosophy, neither the ironing board in the previous photo nor the desk in this photo should be here because they signify work--not what the master bedroom should be about. But I'm not sure where else I would put these things. As I look at this corner, though, it occurs to me that it would be an awfully nice place for a comfy reading chair.

I'm going to try really hard to keep our room looking nice. I have noticed in the last week that when I go in our bedroom there is indeed a sense of peace and order that helps my overall attitude. It's kind of like the bedroom is a reflection of my inner self. And in the same way that taking care of myself makes me better able to serve others, taking care of my personal space enhances my ability to face the world (and the rest of the house).

There is still much that I want to accomplish this summer: filing some papers and shredding others, printing and cataloguing my digital photos, reading, organizing mementoes and keepsakes, starting a blog for young writers, training my children on more cooking and household chores, doing some small house-painting projects, planning and organizing for the next school year, and more. Do you think I'm being a mite too ambitious? There are only three weeks until Vacation Bible School (for which I am doing the preschool music) and then it's off to Nebraska for the synodical worship conference. Note to self: keep breathing. It will be okay.

Lest my family start to worry that the old driven, task-oriented me is regaining ascendancy over the new, relaxed and happier me, here are a few silly faces for your entertainment. (It's a tradition in our family to take the serious shot, then the silly shot, so we have accumulated a number of these over the years.) These were taken just a few days ago. I think I'll remember the expression on my face and use it again--it may look totally stupid, but it sure does minimize the wrinkles!

Heady Days

The first issue of the Steadfast Quarterly (with yours truly editing) is done and off to the printer! (It will ultimately be available online--I'll let you know when and where you can find it.)

Issues, Etc. is coming back!

The new confessional laymen's group BJS (Brothers of John the Steadfast) is roaring out of the starting gate and preparing to unveil its new website in a matter of days!

It doesn't get much better than this.


As a bookend to my recent post on the Supreme Court's ruling in Bush v. Boumediene, please read this column about the so-called Haditha "massacre" by David Harsanyi of the Washington Post. Seems our Marines are getting exonerated left and right. But is the left wing press reporting it?

Harsanyi writes,

"Now that foreign terrorist suspects have the right to habeas corpus, maybe U.S. Marines will be extended the courtesy of a trial before being smeared as cold-blooded murders."

Click here to continue reading.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mystery Solved

A few weeks ago I noticed a quarter-sized chip in the toilet tank lid of our upstairs bathroom. Further inspection revealed a couple of dings in the toilet bowl lid. This toilet was installed within the last year and until this time was in brand new condition, so of course I was dismayed and determined to get to the bottom of what had happened. First I checked with my older two children and was met with earnest denials. So it was on to my husband--he, too, was mystified. We mused that perhaps the tank lid was damaged or cracked during installation but that somehow that piece had held on until now. But that seemed awfully far-fetched--we're talking porcelain here.

Having almost resigned ourselves to not solving this mystery, it suddenly came to me. There is one more person who lives in this house. But come on, he's only four years old! Then I remembered him coming to me not too long before to say, "Mommy, the toilet hurt my finger." Hmmmm. Time for an interrogation. "Honey, let's go look at the toilet. Did you try to lift this lid off? You did? It's pretty heavy, isn't it? Did you drop it on your finger? That hurt, didn't it? Honey, this lid is too heavy for you to lift. Don't do that anymore, okay?"

Then in an effort to dissaude further investigation we invited him to take a long look at the inner workings of the toilet. Poor kid. He has grown up in a house of sub-par toilets and has many times seen his elders plunge them and lift the tank lid to poke and prod in an effort to get the darned things to work right. He probably thinks this is standard toilet operation. Or maybe he's got a future as a plumber. The good news is that we just this month replaced the last of our three toilets! We're a 21st-century household now, at least where toilets are concerned!

(You know you've reached middle age when you can get this excited about plumbing.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Court and the War

During the course of this election season, I have more than once heard it said--usually by fellow conservatives--that a choice between John McCain and the Democrat candidate, whether Clinton or Obama, is no choice at all because of McCain's departure from conservative ideology on several issues. I have all along rejected that argument, seeing a huge difference between a McCain presidency and a Clinton or Obama one, and I early on decided to support McCain wholeheartedly because of the lasting damage I think a Democrat in the White House would do at what is one of the most critical points in our nation's history that I think I have witnessed in my lifetime. For me, the two most defining issues of this election are the Iraq War and the Supreme Court, and I think a Democratic victory in the fall would have a devastating effect on both, leading to a self-defeating military retreat that would compromise our national security and the appointment of justices that would turn our Supreme Court into a bastion of liberal activism instead of the Constitutional lockbox it should be.

Now those two issues--the War and the Court--have intersected in a way that chillingly highlights the choice before us come November. In case you missed it, the Supreme Court last week granted a writ of habeas corpus to Lakhdar Boumediene, a Guantanamo Bay detainee with known ties to al Qaida. In doing so they have ignored both precedent and the Constitution and created a new precedent that will impact the effectiveness of our military in frightening ways. Professor of Law John Yoo explains it much better than I can--please go read. Then take note that Barack Obama has embraced this ruling and John McCain has condemned it.

For me the choice is clear and becomes clearer by the hour. The difference between these two candidates is huge and the stakes are high. A vote for anyone but John McCain in this election is a vote for Mr. Obama. If that scares you as much as it scares me, it's time to support the candidate that has the best chance of preventing that outcome and thus keeping us safe.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yoo-Hoo, Miss Renaissance Biologist

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I just thought you might like to know that your favorite younger man has been two-timing you. Here he is with the the current object of his affection, a certain young chip off the old (oops, I mean young, very very young) Elephant's Child:

I think the world had better look out in about 15 years, especially if these two maintain their long-distance relationship.

(EC, I'll be sending you your own copies of these shots forthwith.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our Garden

Several of my friends have blogged recently about their gardens, so I thought I would, too. This is only our second year to plant a small garden in our back yard. Last year we grew tomatoes, basil, chives, and sage. In spite of our inexperience, everything did remarkably well, and we had very little trouble with pests or critters. So this year we decided to add several more herbs (parsley, thyme, and rosemary) and three varieties of peppers. Here's a photo of our modest little agrarian experiment:

Here's a close-up of a banana pepper plant, already sporting some tiny little peppers!

Next year, I think we'll add even more--maybe some cucumbers, squash, and lettuce. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to some homemade pesto and fresh tabouli salad!

Friday, June 13, 2008


This idea comes from one of my blogging friends, Amused Momma. The title refers to random comments overheard (and surreptitiously recorded by yours truly) during a family activity. In this case it was a game of Scrabble. As I compare my own family's overheard observations with those of Amused Momma's, I can't help but notice the contrast. Amused Momma's family chatter seems to run the gamut of topics. With my family, however, it's all about THE GAME. Hmmm, I can't say I'm surprised.

"Just tell me what the rules are, and then I'll play."

"I'm getting angry."

"I apologize for offending you."

"I'm on my way to losing yet another game of Scrabble."

"My hand looks like a word Dad would make up."

"Q comes before U." (The geniuses that I live with--and I say that with all seriousness--have their minds on such lofty thoughts that they sometimes need a little help with minor details like alphabetical order.)

"Video killed the radio star." (This sung by the 4-year-old playing with his Tinker Toys in the next room--if you don't know this song, brush up on a little pop history here and then have some toe-tapping fun and go listen here.)

Whose Issue?

Common wisdom says that as an election year issue, the Iraq War harms John McCain and helps Barack Obama. But here are two convincing arguments that the war--which in case you haven't heard, we're winning--could be a decisive factor in propelling John McCain to the White House. (If you only have time for one of these, read Krauthammer.)

Charles Krauthammer

Abe Greenwald

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sabbatical Ups and Downs

Several weeks ago my husband began a six-week sabbatical from his full-time position as a Lutheran cantor at a large LCMS (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) congregation in the western Chicago suburbs. This break couldn't have been timed better, coming at the end of a year that has in many ways been the most draining and difficult our family has ever experienced. I am grateful to our parish and its leaders, who obviously take to heart their calling to care for their workers and have thus made this time possible as a benefit of my husband's more than eight years of service to this congregation. Not only is my husband profiting from the opportunity to rest, reflect, and recharge, but the entire family is as well. In many ways we are rediscovering each other and the meaning of family time, something that has too often been neglected due to the daily demands of the schedule and the ever-present "tyranny of the urgent."

So what is my husband doing with his sabbatical? His number one goal has been to spend some time taking care of himself physically, mentally, and spiritually, things that too often get set aside so that he can tend to the needs of others. Ultimately, of course, the care of self will benefit those he so faithfully serves in his various vocations, because a refreshed husband, father, and cantor is a better husband, father, and cantor. But in many ways those benefits to others are already materializing. The "honey-do" list is shrinking by the day (although I seem to have no trouble finding something to add for everything that gets crossed off). The garden is planted and daily being cared for (and I have contributed very little to either effort). We have played more family games and watched more family movies than we have in many months. And my four-year-old no longer defaults to calling "Mommy" when he needs something but is now regularly calling "Daddy" as well. I think this may be the sweetest result of all.

Not only is our family already enjoying the rewards of this sabbatical, but work is being done that will ultimately serve our congregation as well as the church at large. Later this summer my husband will give one of the keynote addresses at our church body's national music and worship conference; this time is affording him the opportunity to focus on what he wants to say. He is also utilizing his freedom from his usual Sunday responsibilities to visit other LCMS parishes, getting a look at what is going on beyond our own walls (a look which is not always encouraging). His current research, along with his many years as a Lutheran cantor, seems more destined than ever to be headed for a book on music and worship. As if those two things weren't enough, there is also his behind the scenes contributions to the grassroots organization of a new Lutheran layman's organization, his online music publishing site (Liturgy Solutions), which has been neglected for a few months but is now getting some TLC, and his initial composing on several recently commissioned hymn concertati.

And he calls this a sabbatical? Indeed it is. It has been wonderful, in spite of my own fears early on that somehow it was too good to be true, that somehow it would all come and go and be a distant memory, with nothing changed and nothing to show for the time off.

I still have that fear. I have quickly gotten used to having my best friend around more often than not, ready to encourage when I am feeling overwhelmed and help with all that is waiting to be done. I have worried more than once about what will happen four weeks from now, when things return to "normal," and especially about what will happen in approximately three months, when not just the sabbatical but the summer slowdown ends and the fullness of life returns in earnest. Leave it to me, the consummate worrier, to turn something as wonderful as a sabbatical into a new cause of angst. I keep thinking, how did I ever do this all by myself? If I am still this busy now, with my husband home 24/7, what is going to become of us when he is gone again and I am back to doing so much on my own?

My wise husband reminds me that I need to keep things in perspective--that we are coming out of a year unlike any other, one which included my mother's recovery and rehab from a severe car accident and his completion of a 3-year composition project while taking 10 hours of post-graduate coursework. He reminds me that this sabbatical is all about recovering from the last leg of this marathon that is our life and getting in shape for the next one, which he assures me will be better and easier. There is no person alive that I think is smarter or that I trust more than him. So I'm going to try my best to stop worrying and simply enjoy the ride. Today he's here. Tomorrow, too. And for four more weeks.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Convention Purchases

The older I get, the better I understand the fixed pie that is our household budget. Money spent on one thing means money not spent on something else. So every purchase is carefully weighed against the things that will have to wait should I buy the thing of the moment.

It wasn't always this way. It's not that we had more money in the past . . . well, okay, maybe relatively speaking we did have a little more . . . but really, we just thought we had more and spent accordingly. The same is true for homeschooling materials. In the early days I spent much more than I do now, in part because I was building a library, but also due to my more careless spending habits. No more.

I didn't intend to buy anything at the convention, just to browse. The vendor hall is a once-a-year opportunity to put my hands on books and materials that I can usually only try to imagine from the descriptions in the curriculum catalogs. Some of them I am already familiar with, such as the math and science texts that we use. With those it's just a matter of buying the next book in the series. But with several other subjects there are decisions to be made about which text we will be using next year. And getting to actually see and hold and smell those books is an invaluable aid to making those decisions. So my plan was to browse and take notes so that come August I would be able to place a more informed order for the coming school year.

I mostly kept to that plan. But I did make a couple of purchases. One was a book that I have been wanting to read for years now but have never gotten around to: How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer. It was on a sale table, priced at only $11.99 ($1.50 less than Amazon's price). It has been added to my summer reading list (along with The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the first chapter of which I read in the bookstore while accompanying my daughter to an author book signing and which sucked me in so completely that I think I will actually read a novel for the first time in several years).

The second purchase required a day of reflecting/sleeping on it before I decided to buy. I have been looking for a text for my next homeschool literature class, in which I plan to focus on masterpieces of world literature. I want to take a chronological approach and have been seeking an anthology or guide that does so, but all of the big name homeschool publishers (A Beka, BJU, etc.) seem to organize their world literature texts thematically rather than historically. But at the same table where I bought the Schaeffer book I stumbled upon this series by James Stobaugh. I think I have heard of it before but don't recall ever seeing it. The approach is chronological and the world view Christian. And the price for the student text was $10 below list! Upon coming to the conclusion that the TE (teacher edition) didn't contain much more than the SE (student edition) beyond scheduling (which I can never follow even if I try) and a DVD with additional author commentary (something I know we would never get around to watching, even if we wanted to), I decided to simply buy the student text (and the price was so low I bought the American and British lit ones, too). I will use it for reference and background information and then in typical fashion will put together my own lessons using not only it but whatever else I can find lying around my house. So now I have a plan for literature! (For anyone who might be interested, you should know that this book is not an anthology but a guide to reading--while there are some excerpts, the actual texts will have to be purchased separately or checked out from the library. Because I like for my students to have their own texts to underline and take marginal notes in, I will encourage the purchase of inexpensive Dover editions for the reading assignments.)

So, literature, science and math are taken care of. Now, what to do for
history. . . .

Weekend Update

First, I'm sure you're wondering about the air conditioner. It's fixed! And the Cantor survived his day of watching children so several friends and I could attend the homeschool convention. In fact, he didn't merely survive--he excelled! (Which doesn't surprise me . . . he has a way with kids . . . nevertheless, as the afternoon wore on he was happy to welcome an extra pair of hands with the arrival of one of the other dads, who got off work early and thought Phil could use some company. Mike organized a backyard game, Phil enjoyed the shower that had so far eluded him, and by the time my friends and I returned home the children were fed and our own supper was waiting. Phil did tell me later that days like this one always give him a deeper appreciation of what moms do every day.)

It was a treat to go to the homeschool convention with some friends, having a ladies' lunch, attending several workshops (and walking out of only one), and shopping the vendor hall ("What do you think of this? Or should I get that one?") Elephant's Child and Sparkle Kitty stayed overnight, so we had some extended homeschool mommy debriefing complete with an unseasonably hot, sticky walk on Friday morning (still wondering what happened to spring around here, since we seem to have jumped right from winter to summer). Friday night my older two children and I took part in a Brothers of John the Steadfast packing party, cutting and taping and preparing materials that will soon be mailed out to the charter members of this new Lutheran lay organization. Saturday I sneaked back over to the convention for one final vendor hall browse (I was blessed to have this statewide event taking place about 10 minutes from my house) before attending a graduation party with my family. Then Saturday night my husband and I went here:

It's an outdoor concert venue in Highland Park, Illinois, called Ravinia. There is a small amphitheatre, but most of the seating is on the lawn. Concertgoers customarily bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets and listen to the music under the stars. The headliner this night was James Taylor, whom my husband and I must have seen at least six times since we have been a couple. When we found out he was going to be at Ravinia, we immediately called for tickets, only to discover they were already all sold out. So how did we end up going? It turns out there were a limited number of tickets available on the terrace at one of the Ravinia restaurants. We had only to agree to purchase a meal in the restaurant to reserve a table for the evening. It turned out to be one of the best concert experiences we have ever had. We had gourmet food and wine while listening to one of our favorite singers in an exquisite setting rather than being squeezed into stadium seats with people crawling over us all night. We couldn't see JT, but even when we have been able to do so he's been a mere speck on the stage (or maybe a giant video version projected on a screen), and what do we really go to a concert for anyway? To see or to hear? So we quickly rationalized the expense (hmmm, both of our birthdays plus Father's Day and Mother's Day in a 3-month span--sounds like reason enough!) and laid down our money. I think Phil's glad we did.

I know I am.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


What would cause a 1-year-old a/c unit that has only been through one mild summer to stop working the moment the technician drives away after completing said unit's annual cleaning and maintenance?

And what alignment of my unlucky stars would make this occur on the night before what promises to be the hottest day of the season thus far, the same day that my husband has agreed to watch a houseful of children so that two friends and I can attend the state homeschool convention?

Just asking.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I have a new job. On the other hand, is it a real job if you're not getting paid?

No matter. I'm having a great time. I recently consented to be the managing editor for a new publication, the Steadfast Quarterly. Some of my Lutheran readers may have heard of a new confessional lay organization that is forming named Brothers of John the Steadfast (you can read more about the group here). The Steadfast Quarterly will serve as the print journal of BJS. The group is the brainchild of my pastor, and he has assembled a team of dedicated volunteers who have been generously sharing of their time, talents and possessions for many weeks now in order to make this vision a reality. In the next few weeks we will see the publishing of the first issue of the journal, the initial membership push, and the launching of a new BJS website that holds great promise for bringing together some of the best elements of the confessional Lutheran blogosphere under one roof.

The first issue of the Steadfast Quarterly is coming together more smoothly than I could have dreamed and will feature the writings of Martin Noland, Timothy Rossow, Phillip Magness, and yes, Todd Wilken, among others. Topics will include a biography of John the Steadfast, a look at the gift that was Issues, Etc., a featured Steadfast parish and Steadfast blogger, news from across Christendom, a cantor's description of finding himself trapped with his family in a worship service that exhibits all too well the phrase "not your Grandfather's church," and the introduction of the newly appointed official BJS cartoonist.

If blogging is light for the next few weeks, you will know why. The publication date for the inaugural issue of the SQ is June 25 (coinciding with the Commemoration of the Augsburg Confession). God willing, we go to press in a week or two.

One of the neatest things about being involved in this, apart from the sense that I am doing something truly momentous, has been some great fun times, including a trip to St. Louis with the SQ publisher (Pastor Rossow) to meet our editor-in-chief (Pastor Fred Baue). Along for the ride was Elaine, a lady friend of mine who has superior writing & editing skills and be using both to assist in this enterprise. (She is not the only one of my buddies who has consented to do so. Elephant's Child is doing some writing for us, too, and is coming in a few days to help me out with the editing phase as well. There are others of you reading this who should not be surprised when I come knocking on your door. I think you know who you are.) Our St. Louis adventure came complete with a cigar-smoking, beer-drinking (by the pastors, that is) editorial meeting and my first trip to the Purple Palace, I mean, the International Center, that I can only describe as surreal.

Last night was the first "text dump," meaning all the Word documents have been loaded into Publisher. It was also my first experience with Publisher period. Elaine, an experienced Publisher user, came to hold my hand through the process, but the program turned out to be quite user-friendly, and I don't anticipate many complications down the road. (I did get a little worried when neither Elaine nor I could figure out how to open the box that my brand new copy of Publisher came packed in and had to enlist the aid of the 15-year-old that lives in my house and is apparently smarter than both of us.)

The writing is done. Now my work really begins.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Blessed Amongst Women

It is one lucky gal whose husband will take a full day out of his sabbatical to play caregiver, cook, policeman and activity director for six children (well, make that four children and two teens) so that their three mommies (his wife and two of her friends) can attend the state homeschool convention and enjoy the fringe benefits of adult conversation and female bonding.

Thanks, honey. You're one in a million. (And I'll be praying for you on Thursday.)