". . . 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)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Raisin' 'em Right

At dinner tonight someone said the word "margarine." The following exchange ensued.

Evan (11 years old): "What's margarine?"

Me: "Fake butter."

Evan: "Oh, gro-o-o-ss!"

I guess we did pretty well, protecting him from this knowledge for almost 12 years. :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Troubling Viewpoint

There is a sentiment that I often see expressed these days among some of my fellow Lutherans. It is that those who have fallen into very serious, life-shattering sin have a better understanding of sin, and therefore grace, than those who just plug along contending with a particular temptation without acting it out. An extension of this mindset is the idea that spiritual leaders who have committed one of these serious sins and have in the ensuing fallout "hit bottom" are better equipped to teach and preach about sin, repentance, grace, and forgiveness. (Side note: by serious, I mean serious in repercussions, not serious in substance, since before God all sin is the same in the effect of its separating us from Him. Sometimes the word that is used, especially in reference to ministers, is scandalous, representing the effect of the sin on the faith of others. See 1 Timothy 3.)

I think this is a dangerous way of thinking. In the first place, it minimizes the struggle of those who contend with inner sin without acting on it in an outer manner. Sin is sin, whether it's hidden or visible. We can sin in thought as well as in deed. The person who does the former, struggling day in and day out with temptation and sinful thoughts, can be just as well acquainted with the need for repentance and forgiveness as one who outwardly sins. So I think it is misguided to generalize about who better understands sin based on what we see on the outside.

Second, this way of thinking risks an odd sort of celebrating of one who has publicly sinned and publicly repented. Yes, we need to love the sinner. Yes, we need to embrace and care for one who has fallen, and repented, and is in desperate need of God's love and grace. Very often that love and grace are provided through the words and deeds of the Christian community who are called to put it into action. But I think we need to guard against turning such people, especially ministers, into examples, and assigning them special standing. It is especially risky to do so when young people, who are typically turned off by supposed hypocrisy, are involved. Our example should not be the one who has sinned. Our example should be the One who was sinless.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Texas Trip

We took a road trip! Upon reflection, we think it's the first time we have gone on the road with the whole family since 2010, possibly since 2009 (the year we drove from Illinois to Texas and back two times, first for my father-in-law's burial and second for my mother-in-law's).

It's not that we haven't done a lot of driving the last few years. We have. But it's all been to transport college kids back and forth, earn income, or move. This trip was purely for pleasure, and although it was short, it was very, very sweet.

Our destination was the Texas bay area (Houston & Galveston). We packed up the car and drove away Wednesday after lunch, arriving at about 10:30 p.m. Along the way we saw some of the flooding that has beset Texas this spring and summer.

While in Texas we stayed with my sister-in-law, who has a very nice 2 BR/2 BA guest cottage. We spent the first day taking it pretty easy.

Relaxing on the porch

Squeezing and picking

Relaxing in the yard

Playing in the yard and the pond

Playing with the pups

And just generally being silly.

The second day of our visit, we spent the day at Galveston. We started with the Ropes Course at Moody Gardens. It proved a formidable challenge for me and Evan, and we did not last long. The advantage to that was it freed me up to take pictures of the others.

After the ropes course, Trevor, Caitlin and Phillip rode the Moody Gardens zip line. I stayed on the ground with Evan. I like the ground. :-) (But in retrospect, I wish I had spent the money to do the zip line rather than the ropes course. The ropes course was way more scary than I expected, even safely harnessed in, and according to those who did it the zip line was less scary.)

From Moody Gardens we went to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch. (Yes, it is a restaurant with a gimmick. But the food is also very, very good! Check out the picture of my lunch--a portabello wrap with sides of steamed vegies and cole slaw. It was delicious! )

After lunch we hit the beach, of course.

On the seawall we snapped a picture of a cross carrier.

We came home Saturday. But before leaving the area we took a short roots tour. After years and years of making annual trips to Texas, we don't go as often these days. With a 22-year-old and a 19-year-old,  who knows when we'll go again with the whole family. So we made time for a few bonus stops. This is the first house Phillip and I ever rented, in League City, Texas. (It's also the first house in which I experienced a hurricane!)

This is the second house we rented, in Dickinson, Texas. Trevor came home from the hospital to this house (baby's room was the one sticking out in front, on the right.)

We also stopped at Hope Lutheran in Friendswood, where we attended for several years, where Phillip got his start as a church musician, and where Trevor was baptized. The original sanctuary is no longer there. The new sanctuary is in the distance. Trevor is standing under the old church bell on the site of the old church.

For a whirlwind trip, it was most excellent. Goodbye, Galveston Bay.

Hello, Oklahoma!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

That moment . . .

. . . when you scoot over in church to create a little more personal space, and your 11-year-old son immediately scoots over just enough to fill it in.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Inside Out

Great movie, highly recommended. We saw it Sunday. We don't see many movies in (or, for that matter, out of) the theater. My 11-year-old has been to the movie theater very few times in his life, due in part to our family's practice of not going very often but also in part to his own resistance. Highly sensitive one that he is, he does not feel safe in front of a movie or television screen when he doesn't know what's coming.

So when the two adult children and I decided to go I was prepared for Evan to say no, but I guess he is growing up a bit because this time he decided to join us. And it turned out to be a fitting movie for him. The main character is a young girl of 11 whose parents have decided to move from Minnesota to California. The reason for the move is not entirely clear, although it seems to be related to the dad's effort to start a new business. In the movie the parents are distracted and worried and counting on their daughter to continue to be her happy-go-lucky self. (This all sounds too familiar.) At its core it is an initiation story. Riley, the little girl, tries for a while to maintain her customary cheerfulness but ultimately can't. The emotion named Joy (personified as a character in her head) has to learn that Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust all have important roles to play and that she (Joy) can't get Riley through life without them. I was a weepy mess for about the last 15 minutes of the movie, trying to contain my sobs in the movie theater so as not to disturb the other patrons.

This movie is earnest and pure. I can't recall any bathroom humor or gratuitous gross-outs. The relationship between Riley and her parents is a loving one. The parents are good people trying to do their best as they navigate the challenges of adulthood. The importance of family is crucial.

And, there are some great laughs along the way, as we get peeks at the personified emotions that are also working to direct the actions of Mom and Dad and a few other characters. (Classic moment: when Mom picks up that something is wrong with Riley and tries to alert Dad with some non-verbal cues, the focus shifts to Dad's emotions, all of which are inside his head sitting on a couch watching television sports. It takes them a few moments to jump to attention and try to figure out what message they are supposed to be receiving. :-))

We are looking forward to watching it again with the dad in this house when it comes out on DVD.