Friday, February 29, 2008

Dishes, Spring Break, Apple Pie, and Colleges!

I used to detest washing dishes. I'd do almost anything to get out of soaking my hands in that quickly cooling water floating with bits of food as the washing process progressed. It always irritated me, and still does annoy me, when well meaning but unthinking family members dump unrinsed plates into my carefully clean water. I just want to lash out at those innocent individuals. I simply must start with hot water. Cool or cold water is just aweful; it sends shivers up my spine to think of grease and grime and dirty dishrags mixed with cold water.

These last few months however, I've developed a liking for the normally noxious chore of dishwashing. Washing dishes gives me a block of time when I can let my brain wander without focusing on a specific mental task, without frantically planning all the work I must accomplish and what deadlines I must meet. While washing dishes, my mind can be peacefully random. I can consider decisions without stress. I can sing at the top of my lungs without worrying about who is listening, because the rest of my family is usually outside or doing other chores in foreign districts of the house. I am pleasantly alone, but not lonely. Through the window I can watch the wind caress the trees and the calf leap through the snow. Washing dishes offers a welcome reprieve from the cares of my everyday existence.

I must admit that those cares have multiplied the past two weeks. Writing college application essays until three a.m. yesterday was not an experience I would recommend. After marathons of sleep deprivation, Spring Break sounds almost too good to be true. I think I'll sleep first, then read a good book, then peak my head out into the fresh, cool winter air, then try baking Apple Pie.

Back when I actually had time to think, I used to have cooking spurts. One of these spurts was Apple Pie. For about two winters, I baked an apple pie almost twice a week as long as apples were available. I wish I had time to do that again.

Realistically, I probably will have to write papers over spring break. Essays, essays, and more essays. To make matter's worse, (or better, depending on how you look at it) my Interpersonal Communications prof. is looking forward to recieving my written opinion on five pages of Nietzsche printoff. I like to write, but not under pressure.

Another bonus of washing dishes was that I was able to contemplate the reason I have not obtained sufficient sleep this past week - Colleges!

Here's the deal; I need some advice, so please speak up. Southwestern Michigan, Hope, Calvin, or IPFW. There are five major things I'm looking at and one additional tiny thing. First is the quality of the Nursing Program. Second is what church I'd go to. Third is how flexible the system will allow me to be and how well I like the professors. Fourth is the student body. Fifth (I've been warned against letting this be an issue) is the cost and where I'd live. Six, I'm kind of hesitant about revealing because I might scare everyone away: Opportunities to learn the art of fencing...{don't cringe} Let me lay out the pro's and cons.

blogging intermission: I've gone to Interpersonal Communications class and learned a few things I didn't want to know about my fellow classmates. I've driven home, gulped lunch, tried to make sense of my crazy email (wildblue just switched to gmail format and all my mail has been completely jumbled and rearranged). Then I became distracted with a book. Yes, I'll admit it: against my better judgement I peeked at the second chapter of "The Elusive Pimpernel" and remained ensconced therein for two hours, or until the I completed the book. I must say that I glanced over some of the more irrelevant material, such as the descriptions of the participants in the procession of the 'Goddess of Reason'. Percy Blakeney and Chauvelin's amusing sallies so far outweigh such trivial descriptions. Then I showed Mom Pr. S's blog, since she finally had a free moment for online diversions. Now at approximately 4:44 pm on February 29th, Year of Our Lord 2008, I am continuing this blog. Hopefully I shall not find myself interrupted.

1. One of the best RN programs in the area (so I've heard). I'd be able to work in the same hospital system as Dad, so he could look out for me.
2. I have a great church here with pastors I trust and want to learn from.
3. I have a wonderful relationship with the the Dean of Students and, as far as I can tell, my professors would do almost anything for me. I can take pretty much any classes I want, and (probably) enter the Nursing Program this fall. On the flipside, besides Nursing, there isn't really any intense, highly interesting classes or opportunities. As a community institution, SMC is limited in it's course offerings.
4. Oh Boy! Some of the students are highly intelligent. But the vast majority of those I've heard talking are either really simplistic in their thinking, or just perverse. I either hear strings of profanity or logic that makes me cringe because of it's flawed sincerity. I haven't made any strong friendships. Many pleasant associations, but few deep conversations. I have made good friendships with my professors, though, which I hope will last beyond my time at SMC.
5. SMC is the "best" option when it comes to price simply because it is a community college.
6. No fencing opportunities nearer than Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo.

1. I've heard that Calvin has a good Nursing Program. They work with the GrandRapids Hospitals (as far as I know) so I wouldn't be going great distances.
2. I haven't seen the church, but I know Pr. Fleming is in Grand Rapids and mapquest puts his church only five blocks away from campus. I'm assuming that this would be safe..... :)
3. Calvin has an honors program which would (would it?) allow me more than usual flexibility. I was really impressed by the way in which the departments seemed to communicate with each other when I visited last year. The professors also impressed me, especially the Ancient History prof. I'd be able to take Greek and Hebrew also, which is a BIG bonus.
4. The student body was...interesting. I think they scared me because I had never seen how college students behave in college before that visit. At the same time, they held a strange fascination for me. I guess it was just my first impression of a college and thus leaves a lasting image. I assume that the majority would be Calvinists of some stripe. I'm prepared (I hope) to deal with that. I'd rather deal with legalistic Calvinists who have everything neatly laid out, than 'accepting' Evangelicals who don't know what they believe but are sure that I'm wrong. (Don't you love stereotypical blanket statements?)
5. Uh, yeah...thankfully I qualify for a significant scholarship.
6. And, according to the history professor I met last year, there are opportunities to learn to fence!

1. Rather impressive BSN program, even do research. I'd have the opportunity to do clinicals at either Lutheran Hospital or Parkview, both of which are nearby. I'd have to do another semester of prerequisites before entering the Nursing Program, though.
2. I'm pretty sure I'd end up going to Redeemer (I think that is Pr. Peterson's church, though I've never been there or met him before.) I've heard lots of good things about this church.
3. Unfortunately, I got the impression that the system is very rigid and does NOT allow flexibility. Their honors program only means that you do extra work and have an "H" on your transcript. The departments don't seem to communicate very well either. We were sent to financial aid by admissions and then told by financial aid that we should go to admissions. The girl helping with financial aid was also obviously having a bad day. My heart goes out to her because in spite of her unhelpfulness, she seemed to be struggling between screaming at us and dissolving in tears. But this was just a first impression of the system, and I have been warned not to jump to conclusions.
4. The student body seemed much more considerate than what I've seen at SMC and MSU. They had no problem giving us directions and asking if we needed help. After the posters I've seen tacked to bulletin boards at the two aforementioned institutions, the general conservativeness (is that a word?) of the posters at IPFW was refreshing. I'd also be near the seminary, so I could participate in activities (maybe?).
5. As a state school, the cost is only a little more than SMC and it appears that I could possibly be able to get a scholarship for a little something although financial aid is still uncertain about me. But I'd also lose a Michigan scholarship from the MME/MEAP test from leaving the state.
6. According to the internet, FT.Wayne appears to be the fencing capitol of the Midwest. {dies of ecstasy}

I know nothing about Hope except that Mom really wants me to consider it.
1. Mom says that Hope has an excellent Nursing Program with clinicals done in Holland.
2. I don't know where I would go to church. There are two LCMS congregations in Holland. One is a large church with a certain "Pastor Westra". It has a 'family liturgical service' and a contemporary service. Between the two, communion is offered every week. (There is also an 'upper room theatre' thing. I'm undecided as to the significance of this 'thing') The other congregation is relatively small. I don't remember the pastor's name. It does not have a website.
3. I have no idea about flexibility.
4. I have no idea about the student body except that it is supposed to be more conservative than Calvin's.
5. Again....Uh, yeah....I think I might be able to get a scholarship.
6. No fencing that I'm aware of. :(

So... What do ya'll think. I'm personally torn between IPFW and Calvin.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Own Reason or Strength!

If I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, then how DARE I imagine that I can convince others to believe by my own reason or strength?

No wonder my friends have been puzzled! I have truly contradicted myself.

From now on, no more arguements! Unless of course, they are not self provoked. Truthquestioner needs to learn more humility. Today's lesson has put a few stripes on the back of the proud ego, but that pride has not yet been crushed. It still yearns to flaunt itself, to corrupt my confession of faith, to haughtily force God's Word upon others as if that were how God really works!

I don't really know what to do now. I can't take all the words of month's worth of conversation back into my mouth.
But I do know that Christ always made a good Confession and all that He has is mine. Even though my attitude of the past months stank, "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
I pray that God will use my poor confession for his purpose even though it is riddled with my own sin.

Relying on my own reason and strength is MISERABLE! But how do I avoid this trap?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nietzsche is Right! (Don't faint)

I have a shocking announcement to make! After consideration of select passage of eloquent work given me by a disgruntled professor who figured he’d take it out on his fellow professor’s student as well, I have come to a startling conclusion. Nietzsche was right!

Don’t fall out of your chair. Nietzsche has the sinful nature perfectly summarized. In fact, in his arrogance, he does not realize that he is saying the exact same things as many theologians. However, what he describes as the highest good in human will, Scripture describes as the total depravity of the human will. And he’s got the law somewhat figured out to and it bugs him to death. He rails against the law because chafes him. It must therefore be a figment of some sort of “slave-morality”. It obviously contradicts itself and human nature. Therefore, since human nature is the ultimate good, the law must be thrown off.

And the individual is God. The individual determines right from wrong.
Sounds about right, right?

Listen to this “However modest one’s demands may be concerning intellectual cleanliness, when one touches the new Testament one cannot help experiencing a sort of inexpressible feeling of discomfort; for the unbounded cheek with which the least qualified people will have their say in its pages, in regard to the greatest problems of existence, and claim to sit in judgment on such matters, exceeds all limits. The impudent levity with which the most unwieldy problems are spoken of her (life, the world, God, the purpose of life), as if they were not problems at all, but the most simple things which these little bigots know all about!!!”

Fun, fun! He’d be right too if it were really those “unqualified people” speaking through it’s pages. He seems acutely aware that life, the world, God and the purpose of life are significant, but Nietzsche seems insanely jealous that the people who wrote Scripture had a grip on these things that he can’t grasp! And as for ad-hominem attack, well we won’t go there.

I’m going to try to write a response to these pages of Nietzsche that have been thrust under my nose as a kind of ‘I told you so’. I’m pleased to be caught in the ripple of the debate between two profs, because the very fact that there is debate illustrates that the Holy Spirit is still working. God-willing, I'll have time to work on this over Spring Break next week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Your DESTINY!!!!!!

I have a little too much energy tonight! It's incredible to sit right next to Anan and yet converse with said person over internet! I feel that I must record a certain lively bit of knowledge lest I forget it. The words lose their humor when committed to page, but I if they do not undergo the transformation, I likely will forget them. Here we go!

We have finally concluded that the mysterious "inner being" who has been thoroughly discussed during the last day and a half is really the sinful nature....Erik still seems to have doubts on this and prefers to keep the "inner self" securely fastened under his hat...

So... While there (at that place) we watched a clip of a street interview done in London. The question is "What is your Destiny!" Imagine strong English accents. (For those of you I or Anan or Erik or Snap know, we will try to reproduce the proper linguistic emphasis upon request.)

Young man: Opens mouth {thinking} stutters..."I ... don't know.. really."
Young woman, long dredlocks in ponytails, 7yr old smile on face: " I just want to be... happy! And to explore as many things in my life as I can!"
American tourist lady with friends: " I don't believe in luck. {turns to friends} Do I, girls? I think everything happens for a reason, and if things just .. fall into place.. then that's your destiny."
Young man with friend: "Destiny...It's a cosmic thing..."
Young man: "99% of people are just... stupid, and then you have the exceptional few ... like Rup. Murdock who actually do stuff and change the world..."

Hopefully, this has explained some of the interesting features of the last two hours.....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talking to myself

Why? Why? WHY?

Oh Why don't I do the good I want to do? Why do I keep doing the evil I don't want to do? Why, when I actually do do good things, do I find myself acting on selfish motives with impure, disgusting thoughts? Let me just self examine and talk to myself here for a while. I need to actually read my own thoughts.

My heart is rotten! "Filsthsy" as Gollum says. I hate my neighbor, I speak evil of him, I hurt his reputation, I care nothing for his needs, I dishonor authorities, I am lustful, I despise the good things I've been given and crave my neighbor's stuff, I decieve and try to steal away my neighbor's friends. I fear, love and trust myself and other people and things more than my Creator, I dishonor his name, fail to confess God's Word, call upon other things in trouble and praise and give thanks to myself. I despise preaching; no way do I gladly hear and learn God's Word when there is something more interesting to do!
I love myself, yet I hate myself. I haven't been loving to my sister. I've pushed her out of my life. She becomes angry with me for good reasons. Like an idiot, I fight back, become angry. At the same time I cringe because I know she is right. I'm wrong again, always wrong.
So I try. I try harder. Work harder, converse more pleasantly, paste that fake ugly smile onto my fake sinful face - make it look so innocent. "Nassty" Try to be helpful and kind while in my heart I despise the people I serve. What a hypocrite!
The harder I try, the more sickened I become by myself. Even now, here I am gutting myself, frantically trying to expose all that infected sinful sore while I ought to be tucking my sister in bed, doing devotions with her, singing to her, something... Christ hasn't given me a vocation to blog. He has commanded me to care for my family, for my siblings. To do my work faithfully (another thing I should be doing).
What can I do to make things right? What can I do? I'm frantically scrambling to somehow make myself clean of all this repulsive gunk.

Maybe that is the problem. I can't do anything to cleanse myself. Duh! Why am I even trying? I just spent the afternoon debating that forgiveness and salvation are Christ's work alone, and here I am practicing the opposite of what I profess.

Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ....For I know that nothing good dwells in me that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. .....So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand....Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
.....There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the Law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us........ (Rom chapter 7)

But if we thus examine ourselves, we shall find nothing in us but sin and death from which we cannot set ourselves free. There fore our Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us and for us and for our deliverance has suffered death and all that we by our sins have deserved. And that we should all the more confidently believe this and be strengthened by our faith in fervent obedience to his holy will, he has instituted the holy sacrament of his supper in which he feeds us with his body and gives us to drink of blood.

I don't usually self-medicate, but this time it turned out pretty well! I'm hearing three voices ringing in my ears now. The first is Dr. Just talking about melancholly. The second is Pr. Dreyer's voice saying, "Get over yourself, Sarah." (ie: stop thinking about earning your forgiveness. Don't focus on you) The third comforting voice is Pr. Stuckwisch: "Do not call unclean what God has made clean. Christ has forgiven you so you are clean."

Man! That's wonderful! I hope whoever reads this doesn't think that I've completely lost my mind. In fact, I do believe that I've found it again.
Praise God!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Culture Reentry

Today started as a good day, became a bad day, and ended as an ok day.

Good day: I managed to sleep for almost 9hrs, ate breakfast, got gas, and still made it to class on time. SMC was threatened with a power outage, so my Phys. Prof didn't really touch on anything terribly difficult. End of good day.

Bad day: I still needed to sleep desperately. Over the course of Friday and Saturday nights, I only slept a total of 8hrs. It was worth doing, but the deprivation told on my mental abilities - all I could think about was sleep. Then there was Interpersonal Communication class and the day began to really get bad. Up 'til this point, I could still rest my aching head by contemplating all that I have learned about Christ, His salvation and gifts over the past few days. No more. The SPEE prof. showed a movie to illustrate concepts of Perception in communication. It left me feeling completely soiled and stripped of all purity and chastity. It was just all wrong. The film did accurately illustrate how perceptions influence communication, but I wonder if the gain was worth the dirt that accompanied it.
I couldn't help comparing my past few days. Over the weekend, I was often completely surrounded by young men with only one or two other girls near me. Yet I felt completely safe, my purity protected, my person even honored at times. But here as I watched the film in class, though I was surrounded by an equal number, maybe even more, females than males, I felt completely filthy, covered with lustful guilt and a violated conscience. The difference then, isn't the number ratio of male to female. It is rather the way we are treated: as sisters in Christ, or as objects to be used. I left the class angry - angry at the film, the students, the professor and most of all, myself - my own sinful flesh. Grant Lord Jesus that my healing in your holy wounds I find. Cleanse my spirit, will and feeling, heal my body soul and mind.
Then HD&L (human development and learning) helped me cool off, though I found it hard to concentrate. Still exhausted, I drove home singing Lent hymns the whole way. There's nothing like Lent hymns when you feel guilty and sinful to remind you of your pardon and purity in Christ. End of bad day.

Ok day: Instead of doing homework when I got home, I unpacked from Phoebe and tried to take a nap. It didn't exactly work; the voices of siblings kept calling me back to reality. But at least I managed to rest a bit and clear some adenosine out of the reticular activating system. After feeding my geriatric caprine pets, I caught a ride with Karen and Snap down to South Bend and was able to process the whole retreat with them before service. I was looking forward to going back to Emmaus and seeing Pr. S, Anan, Magsplat, and others again, but at the same time, I was (and still am) a trifle apprehensive. I guess, to be honest, I'm fearful of being drilled about boys and relationships. Much as I enjoy harmless teasing about this topic, I don't want to associate "romantic relationships" with an experience as wonderfully life-changing and salutary as the Pheobe retreat. I don't want to feel guilty about talking theology with the opposite sex. I learned alot and was strengthened in my faith from those conversations. Also, 'relationships' were not the focus nor the purpose of the retreat (despite St. Valentine's day). It seems a little hypocritical for a prospective deaconess focused on learning how to serve to pursue or chase romance. All that to say that I was relieved tonight to not be pressed about guys beyond an inquiry about whether I've become betrothed. :-) The answer to that is a simple, "NO". I haven't even attained my majority yet, for crying out loud!
Anyway, Vespers was extremely refreshing, as was Bible Study. Also seeing Pastors again. Friends too. I know that today, same as every day, I have done and said things that I ought not have. But I know that Christ didn't, and all that he did and didn't do is mine in baptism. Thank God!
So now I'm home and typing. I better go to sleep before a good ending to the day becomes a bad ending by staying up too late. Further stuff on Pheobe hopefully tomorrow....
End of Day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Happy" Birthday, Elle!

Note: Road names have been deleted or changed from the original post to ensure security.

Happy Birthday to Elle! She's been my sister for 15 yrs now. Before she was born, I prayed for a sister to play with. Well, we did more than play. We irritated the daylights out of each other with our pestering and biting. But something changed, just when I don't know, so that within the last 5 yrs, and especially the last 3, we have grown to be the best of friends. We know each other's feelings and thoughts. We can usually even read each other's faces and communicate expertly by nonverbals. I don't know what I'd do without my biggest sister.

Today, Elle and I went clothes shopping (something we don't normally do) by ourselves (another thing we don't normally do). We headed north to Benton Harbor to peruse the mines of clothing stores for a few specific items. It was fun! After beginning with Good Will (for obvious reasons), we visited TJ Maxx, Sears, Walmart, and even JC Penny's. With the exception of Walmart, those are shops we didn't really expect to make purchases from, but it felt wonderful to touch the stiff, fresh, soft fabrics of beautifully made clothing, even though one look at the price tag assured us that we'd never take the garments home. We each splurged on an article or two, then picked up some more basic necessities (such as vitamins and socks) at Walmart before heading home. Per Mom's directions, Elle was careful to check the trunk after each stop in case any unsavory character had slipped in inspite of the locked doors. Already late for the time schedule mom had given us, we were somewhat daunted to realize how slippery the roads had become. But we had enjoyed a wonderful time (at least I thought it was fun. What'd you think Elle?) and so faced the snow without discouragement. Cautiously, I drove home. (Roads and driving directions removed.)There I made what proved to be a fatal mistake, though it seemed logical at the time. I chose to pass Artist's College Rd. and take Lemon to Bean's Prairie instead. Lemon is one of those back country roads that twists and turns (and which people seem to consider it their duty to drive fast upon). I chose to take it simply because I drive that street more often, and it is somewhat wider than Artist's College.

As we approached Bean's Prairie, I slowed the van, but it didn't want to slow. The sound of the antilock brakes grinding forced me to quickly down-gear. Then I made another fatal mistake. Instead of passing by our Rd, I instictively turned the wheel as I have done almost every day of the past 4 mths. Only this time, to my chagrin, the lower gears had not slowed the vehicle as much as was necessary. Even though we were sliding forward at the slow pace of 15mi before we even came close to the turn, inertia was propelling us toward the snow bank bordering the opposide lane of Bean's Prairie. If I attempted to turn back to our original course down Lemon, we might miss and impact the electrical/telephone box. If I continued the turn, we just might succeed in staying on the road. I turned the wheel....

....and we didn't make the turn....

Instead, we saw a stop sign up close and personal - just before the van's bumper collided with that green steel post, snapping it from it's upright position and sending it hurtling through the drift into the ditch below.
With a crunch, the van ground to a halt, leaving Elle and I shaken inwardly but untouched outwardly. Our tires were firmly held by the snow - stuck!
Thankfully, our house was less than a quarter of a mile away. If we had needed to, we could have walked, but the steady stream of potential assistance made it somewhat infeasible to abandon the vehicle even for a short time. It seemed that every vehicle that passed halted it's course to offer aid. We turned them all down with thanks, for surely Dad would come pull us out once he heard our plight. Elle called the house on my cell phone as I continued to assure passer's by that we were fine and would have help soon. It seemed that every one of those eager to assist had sage advice of some sort.
One elderly gent pulled along side and rolled down his window:
"Should have slowed down?"
"Yeah...." I responded shamefacedly.
"Well, you're slowed down now!" came the response with a earsplitting grin and a laugh.
Somehow I didn't think it was that funny, but I couldn't help admitting that his analysis was correct. We were certainly "slowed down now".
At the house, Luke picked up the phone and informed us that, "Mom and Dad are gone." When pressed for where they had gone we were told that the pair had "gone on a walk in the woods." Disgruntled, Elle instructed him to ring the bell. Apparently, either this didn't work or the order was disregarded. After a time, we called again. This time we talked to Anna. By this point I was nervous, ashamed, panicky, and scared all at the same time. Elle cooly explained to Anna that we had had a little problem. "Not a little problem, a big problem!" I shouted in desperation.
"Yes, Anna, an accident," Elle spoke calmly, ignoring me and my pleas/commands to hand over the phone. The phone hung up. Anna apparently had run to the woods to find our missing parents.
I couldn't believe I'd actually had another accident. That makes two in a year. Elle tried to tell me that there was such a thing as forgiveness, but I had to respond that, while forgiveness is free, trust isn't.
After several more interrupted calls to the house, Mom's voice finally came on. She kept asking if we were alright and where we were. The phone routinely lost signal as we tried to answer. Thankfully she had heard enough of our location to direct Dad to come to our rescue, and soon we saw the big white van turn out of the driveway down the road and head in our direction.
Grandpa was with him (cringe, cower, quiver). Thankfully, he was not angry with my driving clumsiness and told me not to be too upset, but to me more careful in the future.
As Dad pulled the blue van out of the drift, we noticed a county sherriff vehicle making it's way down the road toward us. Ouch! That had me more scared than I had been even about Dad. Through my mind's eye flashed images of sky-rocketing insurance, a ticket, a criminal record, and lots of other somewhat unrealistic possibilities.
Thank God for that officer though! A short stocky man, his face reminded me of a cross between Pr. Preus and Pr. Stiegemeyer and he had the same kindly air to his demeanor. After taking all my information and the vehicle's, and listening to my account of the accident, he informed me that he could issue me a ticket for not driving according to road conditions. I think he meant to frighten me. It definitely worked, though I had been expecting the full weight of the law, so I was not surprised. He looked at Dad with a twinkle in his eye and asked if he should ticket me. Dad smiled and said that he didn't think so. I was left with a warning to be more careful.
Though Dad said that we didn't need an accident report, the officer had to take one anyway in order for the the road commission to fix the stop sign. That took a few minutes. Finally, the officer came back and told me that he was finished and that I could go. He also gave me some official advice about driving in the snow........amoung other things. I really appreciated his concern and kindness.

Then we drove 2 min. down the road home. Mom was in a state of anxiety. Apparently, Anna had told her that Sarah said it was a BIG accident, but Elle said it was a small accident (Mom of course didn't hear this part). Somehow, Mom thought Anna had also said that it was a big accident with lots of blood. Just goes to show how messages change through the grapevine.

What a way to start Elle's family birthday dinner! Sorry sister..........

Thank God for protecting us....and for sending a kind policeman!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A hardened cultural view of death

O God, O Lord of heaven and earth, Thy living finger never wrote that life should be an aimless mote, a deathward drift from futile birth.

What is wrong with our world? The callousness is abominable. Cruel, systematic removal of all shame, all emotion, all associations between value and life. O abhorrent media!

Today, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, I ran to class ten minutes late, only to be stopped by a fellow student and assured that there was no need for haste. Our professor, it seems, had become stuck in her driveway so the Dedicated Tutor was showing a movie instead of lecture. We could watch if we wished, or not. I elected to watch.

The first section was extremely well done. It was clear from the first few minutes that the film was British made. The narrator could possibly have come from the US, but all other persons featured were possessed of extremely British accents. Even the cliches and phraseology were British.

In the first section, we were shown how the body repairs itself in youth. A young girl falls from her bicycle and fractures her radius. The film lead us sequentially through every minute step of the healing process. For some reason, the makers seemed to emphasize the amazing abilities and potential of youth. At first that stress on youth seemed to be a proper thing.

But then we began to watch the second half of the movie. And then the callous systematic God-lesness began to emerge. I would not necessarily say that this aspect is essentially British, but I opine that this element of candidly laying out facts is characteristic of that culture.

The second half of the movie began with octogenarian "Bob". Bob was once young. Bob was once valuable to society. But now Bob has fulfilled his evolutionary purpose. He has reproduced, passed on his genes and now is just biding his time till death. He is dispensible to society. His body isn't working as well, so Bob's "quality of life" is diminished. In other words, there's no reason for the guy to be around anymore.

After cooly stating these facts (and others) the makers go on to show Bob lovingly interacting with his dog, his son, his grandson. During all these familial interactions, the film flashes inside Bob's body and explains how his organs aren't working and why their malfunction will kill him. It's just sickening. You could tell from about ten minutes into it that the film would end with Bob's death.

What made the experience even more troubling for me was that two of my fellow students had brought their little children to class. Two small girls, not over the age of 8, were hearing in the plainest terms that this kindly, gentle, grandpa-like elder had only one destiny in life: to die. And they listened wide-eyed while the film explained step by step the reasons Bob's life would end. Oh heartless world! To show to your young impressionable children the horror of death, without feeling, without emotion, simply stating the facts. Have you no pity? Are you so calloused that you yourself feel no pain?

So we watched as Bob went from playing games with his grandson, to having a ruptured artery spill blood into his stomach. From there, step by step we learned the processes by which a human being, (a soul, not just a body) dies. We heard about neuron death, heart death...I can't and don't want to remember everything this film discussed. It ended by showing Bob stop breathing.

And to top that all off, this is supposedly the best thing for society, to get rid of dispensible members. Following this statement, we see Bob's grandson finding a note from his 'grandad' which reads, "Every dog has his day..."

Will no one weep with me over our heartless culture?

I have no problem dealing with death. Death for the Christian is joyful. But the view advocated in the film was neither Christian nor joyful.

I weep at death. It is the result of 'one man's sin'. Death is not a good thing. God did not intend for us to die. In His mercy, however, he has made death "but the gate to life immortal". But though I will not despair at death, I do not love it. Whether we wish it or not death is connected to emotion. I cannot but feel emotion at the end of a person's earthly life.

For a culture to treat death as a good thing - still more, to treat the death of the elderly as the greatest good for society - is sickening. To systematically desensitize oneself of all emotion about this event, is only to numb and blind oneself to evil and to sin. When we look insensibly at death without facing the question of sin and suffering, we simply hide another skeleton away in a closet.
As a culture we are desensitizing our children. If we succeed, they will be left without shame, without feeling, without conscience. They will view fellow humans as disposable.
Lo and behold, they do!

This is a plague on our western culture.

I need to eat lunch, so I will end my rantings now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Poor, yet making many Rich!

...but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; though honor and dishonor, through slaner and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are ture; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished , and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Pastors are very ...hmm...interesting. In general. And specifically. They're a group that can be stereotyped, but none of them fit the stereotype as individuals. At least not the Lutheran ones I've met.
They're also scary. No, I'm serious; pastors are very frightening - "awe some".

All my life, I've looked up to my pastor. My first memory of my pastor was listening to Pr. Fritch's sermons, fascinated. Seems funny to remember now, but I'd always say to my parents (at the enlightened age of 5-8) that you could never stop in the middle of one of those sermons because you'd be terrified, but by the end, everything was alright and you were glad you listened. I think maybe it was the Law and Gospel....

Pastor was, well... to my mind, there was God, then Pastor, then my Parents, then Teachers. Parents seemed omniscient, but pastor seemed almost...fearsome. I mean, he spoke for God. Yeah, my parents spoke for God too, but they didn't deal in the holiness and forgiveness business. It was pretty clear to my young eyes that while Mom and Dad knew just about everything, they weren't perfect. Pastor, I wasn't so sure about. After all, he was the guy who always wore the clean white robe, preached about obeying God's commands and about Jesus death, and gave everybody communion. That was one impressive job! I was ok with God seeing everything. I couldn't see his face when he watched me sin. But I could sure see Pastor's face. I sure didn't want to do or say anything wrong when he was around. I wasn't sure what he would do. It seemed pretty certain that he wouldn't spank me like my parents, but if he even frowned at me, the world might as well come to an end. Pastor's displeasure was my greatest fear.

But I wasn't afraid of my pastor. No, far from it! I loved my pastors even more than I feared them. They were my pastors. They were my heroes. I've always wanted to run up and give my pastor a big hug, but (fortunately) I've only done that once, and that when I was 8yrs old. I never wanted them to get hurt or people to say bad things about them. With all my youthful reverence for the office, I was shocked that people would cuttingly criticize pastors. I was cringing, waiting for the lightning bolt or the earth to open up and swallow them. And I probably would have called down the lightning bolt if I had been able to.
My awe increased with the kindness of one pastor in particular. He was always ready to get down on my height and look me in the eye, listening to whatever I had to say. When he spoke, his words had such humility and gentleness that I was ashamed. I would have done anything for my pastor. I remember thinking during my communion blessing that the sensation of Pastor's hand resting on my head must be what God's hand felt like.

If asked about idolatry, I would have to conclude that my pastors were my idols between the ages of 4 and 12. Secretly, I prayed that God would have me marry a pastor.

Then pastors began to look a lot more human and less holy. I started to see the black shoes peeping out from under the robe. With that realization, I began to see the office and the man separate. Before that time, both had been merged into a sky-high, tender yet ruthlessly honest being in black and white called PASTOR. It was a jolt to realize that the man "Pastor" was not at all as tall as the sky, as clean as snow, or as honest and tender as I had percieved. Nor did he always wear black or white. Bummer!
(As an aside, I really like the black with the collar. I don't know why, but it makes me feel safe. Kind of like a security blanket - but not. The robe has the same effect. Maybe it is the same phenomena as mom re-arranging the cupboards without telling me. Perhaps I'm just too obsessive compulsive.)

After realizing this, it took me awhile to see the office side of "Pastor". I knew that he was truly giving me the sacrament and I trusted the absolution, but I thought of him almost like the cashier at a grocery store. The groceries were good regardless of the man. The man had nothing to do with the store or the groceries. He just happened to be there loading the cart and punching the buttons on the register, a figure whose presence commanded respect.

In a way, that is true. The authenticity of Christ's gifts does not depend on the person of the pastor. But there is another aspect too.

Pastors function in their "office". No, not the room they work in. Sometimes it's hard to believe pastors really "function" in that teeny room with the 'office' plaque on the door. Usually those miniscule cubicles are full of books and papers in various conditions of health, some gleaming and new, others falling apart.
No, pastors function within the "office" of Christ. As they do what he has given them to do, it is not they that do it, but Jesus Himself. Once I finally realized that, my whole view shifted. I could look at my pastor with out seeing the man. I could see Christ forgiving my sins, feeding me, clothing me in his righteousness, serving me. The respect I had had for pastors as a little child nearly doubled.
But it was not the same kind of fear. Before, I stood in awe of the man. Now I stand in reverence toward the office. Both kinds of respect are directed toward the same guy, but the former destroys the confidence of the respecter when the quality of the man is challenged. The latter looks with awe and confidence toward the one who speaks for Christ. The awe passes through the man in his office as it is directed to it's Lord. When you see a pastor in his office, his flaws just make you love him more (generally), because you realize that Christ uses 'jars of clay'. The power of God is more evident.

Still, pastors surprise me sometimes. I guess in my sinfulness I attribute to others the same selfishness that binds me. I've carefully trained myself not to expect much from other people (excluding my family). That way I won't be disappointed or get hurt. When people, pastors or otherwise, display the selfless love of Christ, even direct that selfless love toward me, I'm overwhelmed. It hurts too much to realize that my hard, wizened, calloused, ugly, sinful soul is being treated as if it were whole and beautiful, pulsing with love, soft, tender, and pure, while I so often treat the hearts of others like so much trash.

Anyway, all that long account is for the purpose of saying that the Epistle reading for Ash Wednesday really struck me. Pastors are truly poor in themselves. What they have to offer out of their own human nature, nobody would want. But they make us rich! They give us the most precious gifts of God our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. There is no man more wealthy in all the earth than he who is forgiven. "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity..."

And so this weak person holds the greatest power in the whole earth: Forgiveness of Sin. And yet Pastor does not "lord it over the flock" but serves them with it! This is amazing! This is in-credible. Why do they do it?

There is absolutely no reason for them to serve us, humanly speaking. That makes not a particle of logical sense. If we were to use logic, we would end up stating with Pope Leo (Giovanni de Medici) "God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it!"

The only key to unlocking this puzzle is the paradox of the cross. Strength in suffering, power in weakness, joy in agony. Why? Why does God become man? Why? Why does God suffer abuse? Why? Why does God die?
Love? What kind of love lets itself become abased, beaten, stripped, shamed, tortured, killed? That's just absolutely disgusting. A dead man, bleeding, naked, his twisted frame held to a rough dirty tree-trunk by rusted wrought-iron driven into his torn flesh, is a repulsive, lothsome image!
What kind of God is that?

Our God. The truth is that I am disgusting, repulsive, lothsome, because of my sin - my own natural self. The beauty of the image of our suffering God is that that torture is mine! It belongs to me by right. Once even by divine right. It is mine, my dues. No court in heaven or on earth could repeal the verdict of guilty! Damned!
But no more. Another man substituted his life for mine. His purity for my sin, His glory for my damnation, His majesty for my shame. That shame, sin, and damnation clings to the tormented body of Divinity suspended from the cross.
All that I have, He took. And he took it by force. For some strange reason, I don't want to give up my filth. The natural truthquestioner wants to cling to it, savor it, flaunt it, relish the pain I give myself. Our flesh is truly perverted in that it loves to hurt itself. Maybe that is why it resists unrestrained, selfless love.
I try to hide. I tell myself that my greed, lust, hurtful words, aren't really so bad. They're just mistakes. I'll do better next time. Sometimes I do manage to supress the guilt.But that doesn't take it away. If you hide a skeleton in a closet, all that means is that you must be careful not to let anyone near the closet. The more skeletons you have, the more closets you must have to keep them in. The more closets, the greater caution you must exercise in order to keep them from discovery.
The mind is the same way (from a scientific perspective). If you do manage to supress guilt, (and that is do-able) you must prevent yourself from thinking about anything that might lead to recall of that unsavory memory. That memory has become a skeleton and the synapses to it are a closet. You must avoid every thought associated with any event or action you feel guilty about. Over time, your reasoning will become increasingly illogical, because if you follow any thought logically, it will lead eventually to a closet and might even turn the door handle on a painfully guily skeleton. I have seen this plainly in certain familial aquaintances...
When I actually face my horrible mountain of dirty, filthy, rotten skeletons, I have only two options. One is to succumb to despair or punish myself even more for these. The only other alternative is to look to the repulsive image of a dead God. When I understand that the repugnace of the crucifixion is my own lothsomeness, the gory cross becomes beautiful. Lovely! Freedom, innocence and new life for me.
To say that the God-man took all that I have is only half true. In stripping me of my hoarded possesions, my skeletons and the grime clinging to them, He also gave me all that He possessed. Everything that belonged to the incarnate God is now mine. Purity, the rights of a son to the Father, innocence, a verdict of 'Not Guilty', glory, honor.
Now no court in heaven or on earth can condemn me. They cannot condemn God's purity and innocence, and that is what I possess!
It was a complete substitution. We switched places. I and God. He claimed all those skeletons along with their closets and those guilty wraiths destroyed Him.I am free from their domination, from locking them in closets, from closing off hallways to prevent friends from the hideous view, from the painful, sickening pleasure of peeping in to make sure I have hung on to my full quota of guilt fiends. I am FREE!

This is joy! This is the treasure my Pastor possesses and distributes for free! This must be the same joy that compels him to serve the pews full of miserable sinners with humility and grace. The same joy that enables him to show compassion to the compassionless and love to the loveless.

Perhaps this is the reason pastors serve. The cause of their poverty and the source of their riches!

Thanks be to God!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Seven Minutes 'til Midnight.

I shouldn't do this to myself. I haven't gotten to sleep before eleven o'clock all week long. I'm worn out. Every inch of my body and mind screams for sleep. And I have only myself to blame.

Why don't I just go to bed like a sensible person? I'm sitting here, typing, when I really just want to sleep, to rest those weary eyes, tormented cortex-ual neurons, aching somatic and skeletal muscles, escape consciousness. Three minutes till tomorrow.

Go to sleep!
Why not?
Who is John Galt? (Ha, ha! I have succeeded in turning this strange tiring narrative into something remotely profound.)

"I do not understand what I do." I'm not doing what I want to do right now. But then again I am.

Good Morning.
Go to sleep!!!
12:03am Saturday, February 9th, Year of Our Lord 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

When you want something really badly.

How do you tell somebody that you really want what only they can give you, when you know that in order to give it to you, they'll have to do a lot more work? I can't figure out how to communicate in this circumstance. I'm afraid to ask, for fear of refusal. I'm afraid to not ask, for fear of never receiving. I'm scared that what I say won't express what I really want to communicate. I'm tormented by not knowing what the other person thinks about what I have said. It's very uncomfortable. This isn't the first time, nor the first person with whom I've had such an interaction. In fact, I seem to have this problem almost every day, though more crucial matters hang on certain conversations.
Maybe the problem is my own sinful sense of self image. I'm acutely conscious of my own pride and arrogance, so I guiltily try to compensate for it by striving for humility in my interactions. But all that that gives is a sense of hypocrisy and a wondering about whether other people percieve this hypocrisy.
I don't think I can stand this any longer...I guess I'll go to bed and pray for both "daily bread" and forgiveness. There sure isn't any other Person I can entreat for that which I really yearn for most heartily.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Review of a Review

Ordinarily, I tend pacifically to remain neutral, gentle and self-abnegating. But inwardly, I must confess, I am a foul, furious, ferocious, fell, fiend. On instances where an unwary soul delves too deeply into the inward recesses of honor and dignity without consideration of subject and suitability of content, I revert to this inner state of sarcasm which few but those who know me best are ever shown. This is not to excuse what follows. I must preview this post with a prior apology: offense was not the intent. Indeed, if a certain personage had contented himself with decrying the abominably poor substance of the narrative in question, rather than creating statements about chefs and his own unquestioned modesty, I would have applauded his insight and good taste in matters of literature. As the matter stands, however, I can only answer in kind. The review was "mostly harmless" but so is a goblet that is 90% wine and 10% arsenic!

I beg the reader to consider two items before proceeding to observe what follows.


"Every now and then, when I consider that I have seen and tasted food from nearly every country of this planet, I feel tempted to succumb to the blissful idea that there are no new ways for a given delicacy to disagree with my impeccable senses. Alas, upon my experience this evening, this must remain only a dream."

Sir, you are not too young to be disenchanted. Perhaps this experience will do those "impeccable senses" a little bit of good.

"A sense of foreboding came over me as I began to cut the dish, a sense which would not leave me for the entirety of its consumption."
May that 'forboding' swell to a ripe juicy plum of dread!

"Its stiff, flat texture seemed more susceptible to actual ripping than cutting."
True enough! If one must feed the dogs, one must expect them to rip meat rather than cut it.

"However, unlike others in my profession whom I could name, I am not a barbarian, and my sharpest knife made short work of it."
Very short work, as I have not yet become aware that any work has been accomplished at all!

"As the first bite approaching my acutely-sensitive tongue, I hesitated, and then, knowing never to accept defeat, I took the plunge."
Sir, your editor has been remiss. Note that in the current sentence construction, it appears that you sir, are the first bite approaching your own delicate tongue. Why you would lower your excellent morality by self-cannabalism, I cannot imagine. I assume that the answer lies in that you cannot accept defeat. Not to be outdone by those who would eat you, you have resolved to consume yourself first. Had you not been weakened by hunger at the beginning of this ordeal, you would have recognized the insanity of this type of reasoning.

"It was dry stuff. In a moment of weakness I half-rose, looking to procure one of my better sauces to improve it - but I was stayed. After all, a comestible must be judged on its own quality. To do otherwise is to do a favor to the chef, and if there is one type of person who does not deserve our favors, it is chefs."

Certainly chefs do not deserve your favors anymore than you deserve theirs. But there is an old proverb which states, "Do not bite the hand that feeds you."

"They exist to do favors for us."

Your humility, sir, is overwhelming! Surely, you are the fountain of meekness! First you assume that the work of a chef is a favor, and then you decide that this favor is meant solely for your personal pleasure! [author kneels] "To hear is to obey, your lordship. My life is yours. Here is my neck for the severing at your will. The purpose of my existence is to do favors for you. I demand nothing else." [author spits] "Bah! Ugghh!" [shivers]

"But I am nothing if not a martyr, and I bore the sacrifice soberly."
You are not yet a martyr, therefore you are, as of yet, nothing.

"Without waiting the usual period, I immediately had my permanent book brought forth to pen this review, and in the back, where all is written in indelible pen, I made a note never again to accept a meal from said personage."
Your wisdom, sir, is indeed to be commended. It is seldom that one makes so swift a choice that leads to so much benefit for both himself and the object of his rejection. The author must then presume that these words will never reach the ears, or rather the eyes, of the said 'fountain of meekness'.

"It is only with a heavy hand that such skookum words down which I thusforth set, but there are some things which must be done."
Does the heaviness of hand result from an iron grip of fist?
Yes! Some things must be done. What you do, do quickly!

"A good read is precisely what I could use, now."
As a good chef, existing only for your favor, I must object. What you could use at the present moment is a square meal of bread and water followed by a sound night's sleep on a cot of unplaned warped boards. This would improve your worldview immensely.

"Just be glad I refrained from commenting on every post. ;)"
Apparently, the author need not fear such comments. It has been plainly stated that you sir, do not wish to devour, consume, or otherwise ingest any other course proffered by such an incompetent chef. But if you dare to sacrifice the honor of your word, be sure of this: One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off! You are forewarned!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tagged by Magsplat[+]

Um, I'm just copying Maggie. This is a sheer act of undisguised plagiarism.

Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
Open the book to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people.
Tag another person.


Nearest book of at least 123 pages.

Um...there is no fifth sentence on pg 123 of this book. (It happens to by a song book and there are only 4 stanzas)

Trying next closest book...

"Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?"
"I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary."

By some chance, this book happened to be Lutheran Book of Worship : the only copy we have. I have no idea why we own this volume in the first place.

Allright! Tagging karen, ...uh Mamita and Daddy (not that they'll see this) and if by some strange stroke of fortunate fate (or doom) Abby and Tina happen to come upon this, I tag them too.

And...Let's go with's a stroke in the dark: Uncle Ron.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chaos in the Court

The court is convened. Justice Discernment presides, grasping in her hand a massive potato masher, which gavel she proceeds to rap on a cushion. fwap, fwap, fwap!

"This court will come to order! Who is the plaintiff?"

One Mr. Misshunt rises and belows only to be silenced by the prosecuter who announces the name of the former with equally misplaced grace.

"And who is the Prosecuting Attorney?"

The aforenamed gentleman squeals with dignity, "Mr. giggle Broken-Glasses giggle, giggle"

Indeed his glasses nearly fall off his nose; very large, round, and black rimmed are they.

"What is the name of the accused?" inquires the Justice solemnly.

Said personage attempts to blurt name until silenced by Her Honor, at which event Counsel for the Defendant rises and announces that the defendant is one Mr. Ebenezer Jones. When asked to reveal the name of said Defense Attorney, the dignified response accompanied with a slight bow is,

"My Self"

Her Honor notes these proceedings and continues to the case at hand.

"What is the charge?"

He of the large, round glasses giggles then looks at the judge with a look of horror and states sadly, "I don't know, I forgot to ask!"

"Then ask quickly!"

Turning to the plaintiff, the prosecuter quickly ascertains the charge against the defendant and returning his reddened gaze to the justice declares:

"Ebenezer Jones is charged with destroying private property by fire."

utterly horrified tumult erupts throughout the court

Justice rapps potato masher gavel. "Order, Order!" finally screams "Silence!"

"Mr. Ebenezer Jones, how do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?"

"Not guilty!"

"Your HONOR!"

"Your Honor."

Justice sniffs and swings her gaze to the gigling prosecutor. "Do you have witnesses?"

"Yes, right here."

The plaintiff, Mr. Misshunt does a little dance on his way to the witness stand.

"Administer the oath, Prosecutor!"

Prosecutor holds a book before the blushing Misshunt. The latter places his hand on the checked Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and swears

"To tell the truth, the half truth, and not all the truth"

Satisfied, Discernment leans back and observes the questioning. Attorney Broken-glasses begins.

"Where were you when this happened?"

"Wael, I was huntin and all of sudden I heard whoosh and Auh turned around an sauw this burnin thing an I looked and someone was lighting a cigar and throwin it on my huntin shack....

murderous screams of denial from defendant

...and I have a video tape of Mr. Jones doin it. Seee!"

defendant howls, "you can't do that!"

Judge solemnly accepts invisible recording as Prosecutor Broken-glasses resumes his seat announing that he is finished questioning his witness.

Judge peers at Defense Attorney. " Do you wish to question the witness."

rises: "Yes, your Honor, I do."turns to the redfaced plaintiff

"Mr. Misshunt, you said that you were hunting, heard whoosh, saw the fire, and THEN saw her light the match?

The plaintiff sputters loudly, gropes for words and throwing up his arms cries whiningly, "Saraah! Elle!! Oh fine! I lose! I'm all done...."stomps off down hall.

Justice Discernment bangs her gavel and calls loudly, "Lukie, you get back here right now or I'll end the case. You're in contempt of court. If you don't come back I won't play with you guys anymore this evening!"

Mr. Misshunt sheepishly returns to the bench and faces Mr. My Self with shamefaced defiance.

The Defense Attorney clears her throat. "Mr. Misshunt, had it rained lately?"


"Was the hunting shack dry?"

"I told you it Burned to the Ground!"

"Did the person who lit the fire use a torch?"

"Nooo! I told you it was a match."

"I am finished questioning the witness, your Honor."

The Justice has been working to keep her face straight and has failed utterly throughout this entire exchange. Now, with face grave and voice somber, she inquires:

"Is there a witness for the Defense?"

One Mrs. Mareshmello (suddenly converted from the defendant) approaches the stand and is administered the oath on the cookbook by the Defense Attorney to...

"...tell the truth, the half truth, and not all the truth"

Mr. Self begins. "Mrs. Mareshmello, were you near the shack that day?"

"Whay Yees, I was."

"Did you see it start to burn?"


"Did you see Jones anywhere near the hunting shack?"

"Oh, No!"

"Do you know what Ebenezer Jones looks like?"

"Of course I know, Eb. Jones is my best friend!"

attorney groans then proceeds

"Did you see how the fire started?"

"Sure, somebody dropped a match."

"Did you see who it was?"

"Weel, I think it was Lily Van something or other. I'm not quite sure."

"You are certain that it couldn't have been an electrical problem that started the fire?"

"No, couldn't possibly be!"

My Self groans again and half heartedly inquires again

"Mrs. Mareshmello, are you a shady character?" sarcastically

attorney, flabbergasted: "I'm finished your Honor!" sits.

An amused judge turns to the prosecutor, "Do you desire to question the witness?"

"Yes I do, giggle" He turns toward the witness, very business-like and decorous.

"Mrs. Mareshmello, did you light the fire?"
"Are you a shady character?"
"Did you have matches with you when you were near the shack?"
"No, Never."
"Have you ever lied before?"
" Nah, once when I was a little kid, I lied to my Grama about my school, but never since then!"
"So you have lied?"
"I think everybody has."
"Do you smoke?"
"Are you telling the truth?"
"Of course not! I swore to tell the half truth!"
"Are you telling the half truth?"
"I better be! I swore to!"

Grinning, the prosecutor attempts to resume his seat.
"Are you finished?" bellows the justice. Broken-Glasses jumps to his feet.
"Yes I'm finished."
"Your HONOR!
"Your Honor."

"Do you have anymore witnesses?" to prosecutor
"Um, glances at plaintiff I think so... yeah."
plaintiff transforms into witness, then faints to the ground, convulses.

Judge threatens with fines, and witness, wobblingly takes the stand.

sings loudly, "I swear to the the whole truth, the whole truth..."

prosecutor burps
"Do you know why you are genetically prone to falling over like that?"

Witness answers in sing-song, "Well I was in that hunting shack goin' bang-bang out the window at a turkey and then there was this eagle, so I went bang-bang at the eagle too. Sowhat if it's illegal.. Weall, I shot at eagle, went bang! hit mah head instead and cracked my head and then switched brains with a cow...
sings/screams :MOOO, MOOO, MOOO"

Prosecutor: "Oh, my!"

Justice sobbing with laughter, "Are you finished?"

Prosecutor nodds in disgusted disbelief. "I don't want him!"

Defense attorney has no need to further question witness who then seats himself.

Recovering, Justice Discernment turns to plaintiff/crazy convulsing witness, "What exactly is on this video tape I have here?"

crazy sing-song again: "Well, it shows Jones started the fire in my shack right next to tons of signs sayin' "private property" all over. An she (whoops! he) killed that person in shack who actually wasn't a person, really a robot... Nah, it shows a person throwing a match, guy in window shooting eagle who misses, knocks head and goes to the hospital....laughs strangely"

Judge looks carefully at invisible tape recording. "Well if that's what it shows..."Plaintiff turns suddenly serious.
"Wait, Wait! That's not really on the tape! I thought I was still that crazy witness. No. Ok. Now I'm Mr. Misshunt. What's really on that tape is the guy throwing the match onto my shack and the shack burning up."

defendant yelling in background, "let me defend myself! Let me defend myself."

Justice: "I see! Alright! Mr. Ebenezer Jones! Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

Defendant indignantly screams, "Those private property signs were because the shack was on my property! I was burning MY shack. It was on my property without permission! And it had worms in it! Why should anyone be allowed to videotape me burning MY shack on MY property?"

Discernment inquires, "Which of you has the deed?" Turns out they both do. Bother!
The defendant's deed dates from 1899 while the plaintiff's deed was written in 1776 and 1885. Nevertheless, the plaintiff's deed has one thing that the defendant's does not have: a copyright! The noble Justice seizes on this point and settles the case in her mind.

"Does the Defense Attorney have anything further to say?"

My Self comments sarcastically, "It would have been nice to know that Mr. Jones thought it was his property at the beginning of the case. I think both parties should have to pay my bill."

The Judge pounds the potato masher gavel again as the courtroom erupts with contradictory shouts. "Silence! or I'll fine you all! All rise to hear the decision of the Justice."

Misshunt, Jones, Self, and Broken-glasses, rise reluctantly.

"I find Mr. Ebenezer Jones guilty and order him to pay Mr. Misshunt 4o bucks and a bald eagle.
I find Mr. Misshunt in contempt of court and fine him 1oo bucks. I hereby prohibit these attorneys from taking part in any court case again! COURT ADJOURNED!"

Longing for Kidding Season

Tinuviel with bottle

I shot six goats the other night. No, honestly! Selenium/Vit. E (or BO-SE) and Tetanus Toxoid vaccine. Just another thing that must be done to prepare does for kidding season. Even though the five months of caprine gestation are rapidly passing, I'm getting a little impatient.

Why in the world should I be impatient for kidding season? That time of year means getting up every 4-6 hrs and going out into the nasty cold to either check mamas or feed kids. You lose sleep, patience, and use the washing machine twice as much for really dirty towels, overalls, etc. You have to milk twice a day in the cold, give shots, make sure everybody is eating, and keep an eye out for infections that can claim your does. You can't go anywhere without leaving somebody at home to watch for labor, and and enjoy a good dose of panic when babies become tangled during delivery. Who would want to go through all that trouble?

While it is true that kidding is a lot of work for the caregivers as well as the does, I consider it the biggest highlight of caprine husbandry. There is nothing like pressing a hand upon your doe's swollen belly to be rewarded with a kick. I remember one of my biggest surprises came one day when I was "goat-gazing". Watching the activity of heavy enormous does, I was stunned to see the shape of a tiny hoof suddenly protrude from the side of Caprina. That was awesome!

There is nothing like soothing the anxious panicking young doe whose eyes and maa's plead with you to 'get it over' or the calm older doe who is mildly annoyed by all these people staring when she can birth her kids just fine on her own. The joy of pulling wet, sticky, bloody kids out into the world, suctioning little noses, hearing tiny coughs and bleats, rubbing shivering bodies, clamping streaming cords, is unsurpassed. Not to mention the beauty of watching the mother lick membranes and slime from her impatient offspring already trying to rise.

These little guys are on the move even before they are born! I'll never forget Caprina's first delivery. She had just passed the head of her enormous firstborn when she abruptly decided to stop pushing. Just like that, she got up and started walking around with her half-born buck's head looking around and bleating. It was hilarious in retrospect; at the time I didn't know what to think. As soon as the kids are born, they seem to think that it is their responsibility to instantly learn to run away. They crawl, they attempt to stand, they fall, they pick themselves up again. Within an hour of birth most can stand and walk quite well. With in a day, kids are literally "bouncing off the walls".

And did I mention that they are LOUD? My goodness, can they scream! Especially when they hear human voices and think it is milk time. And the does yell back.
Probably the icky-est job of kidding time, is cleaning up and milking out the mom. She's usually both exhausted from labor and fascinated with her kids, so dragging her away from the darlings up to the milking stand is hard work. Then comes the task of washing her swollen udder and coat of all the sticky reddish fluid that clings to the hair and skin. This project is even more difficult if you've forgotten to shave long hair before parturition.

Most does don't appreciate the first milking of the year. They are often jittery and jumpy. This is especially true of yearlings. Year old first time mothers can be a NIGHTMARE to milk, kicking and jumping, spilling their offspring's precious nourishment.

What makes the first milking particularly stressful is the realization that, despite kicking and jumping, you must obtain the colostrum quickly. If the kids aren't fed within a few hours following birth, their chances of survival are slim. If mother goat spills her colostrum, that is it. There is often nothing more (unless you have saved some of the thick yellow milk from another doe). And after milking, it takes a whole 60 minutes to heat treat the milk before the colostrum can be fed to the kids.

That's just a sample of the trials of kidding time. More later as the season approaches.
Currently we have four pregnant does and three others possibly carrying kids. The first four are due March 18, 19, and 21. Unfortunately, these dates fall on (guess what!) Holy Week!
NOOOOOO......! This will mean that our family will often be unable to attend services that week. Rats!

Here are a few pictures of last year's kids.

(Eleanor of Aquitaine (Nora) is actually from spring 2005. She and her brother (John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster) are the only ones we have ever failed to disbud. Note the horns.)

Concerning Heresy!

Disclaimer:Unless otherwise noted, the author considers her writing orthodox. In cases of heretical content, please notify the author. Posts of horrific heinous heresy may be submitted to Pr. Stuckwich, in which case it may be hoped that appropriate measures will be taken for the curbing of falsehood and a return to sound doctrine.

Note: Cruel and unusual punishment INCLUDES (but is not limited to) burnings at the stake, seizure of property, torture, uncalled for snowballs, and (yes Magsplat) DROWNING. Besides being contrary to the Gospel, these methods are ILLEGAL! (well, maybe not the snowballs.)

Not that anyone would ever actually consider such things.....