Friday, July 31, 2009
Once the Denker portion of the tournament is completed, the other children and I will take over cheerleading duty so that my husband can return to paid employment--he takes that role rather seriously, you know? So since I'll be in the neighborhood, I'm planning a side trip to Fort Wayne next Tuesday/Wednesday for the Wisdom and Eloquence Homeschool Conference. Will I see a few of you there?
In addition to all the traveling for chess, my husband will be heading out to Nebraska next week to serve as the chief musician for a Doxology pastors' retreat. If you think of it, our family would definitely appreciate your prayers for safe travel!
Liturgy Solutions is co-owned by Stephen Johnson and Phillip Magness and features compositions by the likes of Jeffrey Blersch and Kevin Hildebrand. In coming months, you will be able to purchase a new setting of the liturgy by Phillip Magness as well as brand new hymns by Pastor Stephen Starke (with tunes by Stephen Johnson).
If you have never investigated Liturgy Solutions before, or if it has been a while since you did, please take a few moments to drop by. The site is better than ever and improving every day, so don't be a stranger. And please pray that our Lord might continue to bless this labor of love as we look forward to seeing what the future brings!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
"Ah thank Ah just might be gettin' the hang of this gardnin' thang."
"Really, Pa? What makes ya' thank so?"
"Weeell, honey bunch, just take a look. Here we have some tomaters coming along right nice . . .
. . . and some peppers doin' the same . . .
. . . an' Ah think we're gonna be cookin' up a mess o' greens any day now . . .
"Do ya' think we waited just a mite too long to pick these two, Ma?"
"Mebbe just a mite. But don't you worry your sweet little head about that, Hon, I'll take care of it. Looks like zukes for supper tonight!" (And maybe tomorrow night, too, and the night after that, and the night after that . . . . Anyone out there have some cool zuke recipes?)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
(Thanks to my husband for passing on this clip to me.)
Monday, July 27, 2009
"I don't know how I do it either. I don't have a playbook or blueprints; not even, if you can believe it, a Vision Statement. It's just my life, and I live it. . . . Speaking of my life like it's some epic task cheapens the currency. I apologize to victims of famine, fire, flood, fascism, fistula, and every other truly terrible thing in the world whose suffering is diminished by the selfishness of our culture. But I know how they do it. They do it one agonizing minute at a time, God have mercy.
"How would you do it if you had to take in your sister's kids or your husband's parents? How would you do it if a tornado flattened your house? How would you do it if you or a loved one became ill or disabled? How would you do something that you KNOW you can't handle? You would just do it. It would be hard and you would be sad and you would do it. Living under circumstances beyond their control is what people do."
I read this post some days ago (you can read it in its entirety here) but have found myself thinking of it repeatedly ever since, as I contend with my own feelings of inadequacy and hear similar sentiments from some of my friends. I, too, am often told by others, "I don't know how you do it" because I homeschool my children while working several part-time jobs and caring for my mother. So often, though, I don't know how the people who speak those words to me do what they do. How do moms who work full-time jobs outside the home get the kids up in the morning, get them to school, go to their jobs, and come home and still keep up with the housework and the cooking and the homework coaching and the chauffeuring? How does the single mother in our adult church choir do it? How does the teacher in our day school who is fighting cancer do it? How do all the people who have lost jobs in recent months do it? How do parents with seriously ill children do it? How do those who are battling their own illnesses and depression and loneliness do it?
I could go on, but you get the picture. It's a broken world. Each of us has our place in it--the thing that we have been called to do--and none of us has it easy. But it's so tempting to fall into the comparison trap--to look at the lives of others and imagine ourselves in their place--thus, the "I don't know how you do it" reaction. We can't imagine ourselves having to do the things we see that other person doing. Yet if we were given those shoes to fill, we would put them on and walk. We would have no choice.
It's also easy sometimes to look at others and instead of thinking "I don't know how they do it" find ourselves thinking "What's their problem? They have it so much easier than I do." Maybe the person in question has a supportive, loving family or apparent financial security or talents we admire or the ability to be a stay-at-home mom (or conversely, to work outside the home) or an intact marriage or better health than we do or "model" children who do not challenge them at every turn. It may appear that they have a much easier row to hoe than we do. And yet we never see the whole picture of other peoples' lives. We truly can't know "how they do it" because we don't know the extent of what they are facing. Unless we know them very, very well, we only see the surface, and even then, we can't possibly know it all.
Each of us is a unique individual with our own place in the time-space continuum, living the life to which God has called us, the life that He will enable us to live by His grace. May we ever be thankful for that life and the blessings and trials that it brings, trusting in our Lord to sustain us through them all as we "ora et labora"--pray and work our way through each of our days, one grace-filled day at a time.
"In what You give us, Lord, to do,
Together or alone,
In old routines or ventures new,
May we not cease to look to You,
The cross You hung upon--
All You endeavored done."
LSB 853, "How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord" (Stanza 4)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
But maybe it's worth it. I think they may take off a few years. What do you think? Here are a few birthday pictures (taken by my daughter) for your consideration.
With glasses (do I look more intelligent?):
Enjoying the new reading corner:
Thanks for being my official photographer, Caitlin!
Happy birthday to me!
So I'm trying again. My husband has been out of town for a few days, so I again set myself to fixing up our bedroom. The first step was to give it a thorough cleaning. But then I did a little more nesting.
Here's one corner of our bedroom last year at this time:
Much nicer, huh? Long-time readers may recognize the chair. It's the one I purchased for my husband from Ikea for Christmas. It wasn't working out in the rec room very well because the floor in that room is tile and the chair kept sliding around. Last month we found a heavier upholstered recliner at our church's garage sale ($20!) to take its place, leaving the question of what to do with the Ikea chair. We decided it would be a nice addition to the bedroom. Yesterday I stopped in at Hobby Lobby and found the side table (if you have a Hobby Lobby in your area, go NOW--they are having a furniture clearance sale). With the addition of a lamp, plant, throw, and some books, we now have a cozy reading corner with a back yard view!
We wanted to keep the desk, so we had to be creative. It ended up here, around the corner in the lavatory/closet alcove.
What do you think, Melody? (She's the one who first introduced me to the Master-Bedroom-as-Adult-Sanctuary philosophy.) The ironing board is still here, as well as some piles awaiting proper storage, but I'm making progress, huh?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Tenth Amendment Center
"The Tenth Amendment Center works to preserve and protect Tenth Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power."
HT: Father Hollywood
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
In the course of the segment I discovered how many czars Obama now has. Do you know? I was stunned to hear that the number is now over 30. (I can't remember exactly--I think Huckabee said 31 or 32.)
Does this send up warning bells for anyone else? This concerns me greatly. Who are these people? And what gives Obama the power to appoint them? Is his behavior even constitutional? Not only that, how much are these people costing us?
This president is out of control. I hope and pray that we can vote him out before he does irreparable damage. But I fear it may already be too late for that.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
(You are picking up on my sarcasm here, aren't you?)
I can't wait to see what Mrs. Palin does next.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
So, doublespeak is intentional manipulation of facts in order to mislead and thereby control, whereas doublethink is the lazy mindset that makes doublespeak possible. Here is a case in point of how easy it is to practice doublethink, even when the two things that are mutually contradictory are side by side, staring you in the face. On July 4, the Associated Press published an article by Tom Roam entitled, "Rising debt might be next crisis." (Well, duh--but that's not the point here, so we'll move on.) Here are the opening paragraphs of the article:
"The Founding Fathers left one legacy not celebrated on Independence Day but which affects us all. It's the national debt.
"The country first got into debt to help help pay for the Revolutionary War. Growing ever since, the debt stands today at a staggering $11.5 trillion--equivalent to more than $37,000 for each and every American. And it's expanding by more than $1 trillion a year."
The history buffs out there may have already spotted the factual error. (Those facts--they're such inconvenient, pesky little things.) The national debt has not been "growing ever since" the Revolutionary War. In fact, President Andrew Jackson paid it off, rejecting one infrastructure project after another to do so. At other times in the nation's history, it has risen and fallen in tandem with the country's economic health and involvement (or lack thereof) in war. Yes, the overall trend has been upward from the founding until now. But to state that the debt has been rising ever since the nation's inception is inaccurate and disingenuous. And to refer to it as the Founding Fathers' "legacy" takes the pressure off those who bear current responsibility by suggesting that the debt has always been with us and is a fact of life that we have little choice but to accept.
Here's where the doublethink comes in. In the Northwest Herald, the McHenry County, IL newspaper in which my husband and I saw this article (while attending my friend's son's wedding), there was a bullet list of facts to one side of the article. One of those bullets stated, "The nation has been out of debt only once since the American Revolution: in 1834-35." Well, what do you know? Someone apparently does care about the facts. I'm thinking the credit for that bullet point probably goes to the Northwest Herald, because it's not an element of the multiple places you can find the article online (the article itself does eventually get around to saying it, but it's much later on in the story. And if you're like me, you often scan news articles, reading the headline and maybe the first few paragraphs, but only continuing if the article really interests you, which in this case would give a skewed picture. So kudos to the Northwest Herald for highlighting the facts in a way that provides a fuller, more accurate picture.)
Even with the bullet point, though, I bet most people would not pick up on the contradiction in the article. Full disclosure: I didn't (my husband pointed it out to me). I am as much a lazy thinker as the next person, accepting without questioning too much of what is placed before me. This wasn't a matter of my needing to know the historical record in order to recognize the contradiction. The contradiction was right there before me in black and white. Maybe if I had read the whole article from start to finish it would have sunk in that something wasn't computing. But from my cursory look at the headline, the opening few paragraphs and the bullet points, I didn't immediately see it. And I think of myself as a fairly intelligent and clear-thinking person.
So what's the answer? I don't know. I think my own response has been to become incredibly skeptical about the information that comes my way (just ask my husband). I don't trust anyone much--even those whose integrity I would bet money on--because I imagine they are probably just as susceptible to being duped as I am. Much of what I read goes in one ear and out the other because I doubt its veracity but don't have the time to pursue the truth of the matter. It's frustrating, because in our information society--the one I first heard about some years ago in the book Megatrends--it is more important than ever that we practice critical information consumption. And yet because of the constant onslaught of information I think human beings have less capacity to concentrate and pay attention these days (so much for evolutionary theory--I would argue we're devolving, not evolving). The ability to think critically--to not merely absorb information but to analyze, categorize, and organize it--seems to be a dying art in our postmodern world. I think that's why our culture has become so dominated by feelings and impressions and intuitions and headlines and soundbites. So maybe that's where the gut comes in. If your gut--not your heart or even your head but your gut--tells you something isn't adding up, it probably isn't.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I'm hoping to catch up on some reading and email and blogging while Trevor plays. Sometimes I think I enjoy these chess tournaments (at least the out-of-town ones) more than he does!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Miss Maudie settled her bridgework. "You know old Mr. Radley was a foot-washing Baptist--"
"That's what you are, ain't it?"
"My shell's not that hard, child. I'm just a Baptist."
"Don't you all believe in foot-washing?"
"We do. At home in the bathtub."
"But we can't have communion with you all--"
Apparently deciding that it was easier to define primitive baptistry than closed communion, Miss Maudie said: "Footwashers believe anything that's a pleasure is a sin. Did you know some of 'em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me me and my flowers were going to hell?"
"Your flowers, too?"
"Yes, ma'am. They'd burn right with me. They thought I spent too much time in God's outdoors and not enough time inside the house reading the Bible."
My confidence in pulpit Gospel lessened at the vision of Miss Maudie stewing forever in various Protestant hells. True enough, she had an acid tongue in her head, and she did not go about the neighborhood doing good, as did Miss Stephanie Crawford. But while no one with a grain of sense trusted Miss Stephanie, Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie. She had never told on us, had never played cat-and-mouse with us, she was not at all interested in our private lives. She was our friend. How so reasonable a creature could live in peril of everlasting torment was incomprehensible.
From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Chapter 5
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
My Lutheran readers may also want to check out this review of the movie in Liturgy, Hymnody and Pulpit, where it is pointed out that the now sainted Rev. Dr. Kurt Marquart was born in Estonia.
The movie is a testament to the power of singing as well as the power of people to stand in the face of tyranny. I can't help but think Americans could learn a lot from this movie, things that may serve us well in the future. Problem is, we don't sing anymore in this country. At least, not like this. Instead, we have people sing to us. I suppose it's evidence of the importance and power of singing that we then turn some of our singers into near gods, looking to them for a sort of redemption. Then when they show themselves to be merely human, we are surprised.
Music can't save us. But when we make it our own it can nourish and fortify us in a way that not many other human endeaors can. May the Estonian people never lose the love for corporate singing that sustained and helped bring them out of the dark days of their oppression into the light of freedom. God bless them, and God bless all who thirst for freedom.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Here is my theory, for what it's worth (which is probably not much, considering that I also predicted that McCain would pick Romney as his running mate and later, that McCain and Palin would win the election). I think that there is some truth to the "hot kitchen" theory. But I don't think the heat is getting to Palin as much as to her family. Sarah Palin has shown herself to be tough enough to handle whatever the media mudslingers throw at her. But she has also shown herself to be someone who champions family values. And how better to do that than to protect her own loved ones?
Mrs. Palin has had an incredible year. I think she is seriously considering a 2012 presidential run. If she decides to go for it, she will have to start the process next year. I think it is quite likely she is bowing out as governor now so that she can have a little time to devote to her family before stepping back in to the fray.
The Palin-haters are calling her a quitter and branding her as unreliable and fickle. I think this decision is just another sign of her integrity and her refusal to play politics as usual. I wish her the best and look forward to watching the Palin story play out.
Pastor Todd Wilken on the air.
Craig Feichtinger and Jeff Schwarz, making it all happen.
Secondly, Pastor Rossow referred to my "award-winning blog." You can tell that my pastor is relatively new to the blogosphere, since he doesn't seem to understand how EASY it is for a blog to win all kinds of awards. I don't mean to diminish my awards--I was thrilled to receive them--but they are viral in nature and require only a single reader (usually also a friend) to decide that one is worthy for the award to be granted.
Back to the topic at hand: CONGRATULATIONS, ISSUES, ETC.! And thanks for the free beer! :-) It was a wonderful party, and I am so glad I was able to be there! Can't wait until the second anniversary! See you then, if not before! (In the meantime, I'll be listening.)
Sunday, July 5, 2009
My daughter Caitlin, looking at the camera, and her friend Mary (the groom's sister) leaning over.
Dancing at the reception (Mary is front and center):
Mary, Caitlin, and friends.
Mary and a rather tall, handsome friend.
The bouquet toss.
Friday, July 3, 2009
So my already spotty posting will probably remain so for a few more days. I do have some great photos from the Issues, Etc. anniversary party, so look for those to go up either here or at Steadfast (or both) in the near future. And who knows? Maybe I'll manage a blog post on the road. Because thanks to a near-dead cell phone, my generous husband, and a new T-Mobile service contract, I got my birthday present early (by almost three weeks) yesterday: a new Blackberry Sidekick LX. In addition to the phone, it has web capability, GPS, camera, video recorder, email, instant messaging capability (which I'm not subscribing to), personal calendar/organizer, and music player. Woo-hoo! Twenty-first century, I've arrived! Now my daughter and I can quit fighting over my Sansa and I can download Issues, Etc. podcasts right to my phone!
(Full story: it wasn't my cell phone that was about to die, but our other one, which has to date been our "house" phone; that phone has been replaced by a T-Mobile "At Home" wireless system, while my former cell phone will be shared among several family members depending on circumstances. I find it amusing that the phone I ended up choosing is aimed for a teenage demographic; I chose it because it had the biggest screen so is easier for me to read with my failing eyesight!)