Sunday, July 27, 2008

If God Himself be for me

If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy. For when I pray, before me, my foes confounded fly. If Christ my head and master befriend me from above, what foe or what disaster can drive me from His love?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rejoice With Me!

Please share my joy! I simply must share it with someone. Usually "joy comes in the morning" and not at 9 minutes to 11pm. But tonight it appeared rather belated. Never mind. It is here!

I managed to view my class schedule a moment ago and peek at what those wonderful registrars decided to do with my life for the next few months. I feel like I ought to send them a thank-you note (never mind that I have over 40 graduation thank-you's still waiting to be sent) : they scheduled me for exactly what I asked them!

So, come the twenty-eighth of August, in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and eight, at exactly (more or less, depending on the professors) 9:30 in the morning (am I correct in pronouncing that realm of time "ante matins"?) I will be sitting in a "health and fitness and other general goodies" class (in other words: a required class for nursing and freshmen that looks helpful and interesting and is officially labeled as a Kinesiology class).

Actually, to be honest, I'm having a hard time at the moment pinning down what day classes actually begin. The hope calendar decrees that classes shall begin the 26th of August; however, that day appears to be a Sunday. I do not think that the Calvinist school on which only two homosapiens were seen the Sunday Dad and I swung by will hold or begin any classes that day. So I can only assume that classes begin the Monday thereafter. But it also appears that I have no classes scheduled on Monday. That could change as Choir and Hebrew have yet to assign times. But discounting this fact, I will begin the 28th with a Kinesiology class, and have nothing else that whole, entire, glorious, brain-nurturing day.

Then begins the grind of study; but I plan to enjoy every turn of the gears. Hebrew, Kinesiology, the obligatory First Year Seminar, Spanish, Biology, Choir practices, getting to know my room-mate (who I think I will get along with quite well) and whatever other mischief I can get myself into.

But I'll be back every weekend - as long as someone picks me up. Yeah, the two Toyotas haven't been merged yet....and the vehicle permit is, um, very, very inexpensive.

So, rejoice with me! Life hasn't been, isn't, and won't be all roses and cotton candy. But here's a little of the sweets I'm currently eating. The sour and bitter aren't quite as much fun to share, though, dear reader, you have tasted quite a few of those dishes with me. Thanks for sampling!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Simmering Brain Juices: Or being a collection of thoughts on listening, loitering, contraception and love

Because it is after 11:30pm and therefore the literary brain juices are starting to simmer....

So I read both more and less than I let on. Like a few of my acquaintances, I enjoy merely listening to thought provoking conversation without anyone knowing that I am around, if that can be managed. (If the reader must know, Pastor Questioning can also serve this function when concerns do not weigh down my spirit.) It may seem weird for the loud, always-talking truthquestioner to confess a desire to listen - but it is so. I've always had this love of listening, but it is not a love of listening for the sake of listening. No, I love listening for the sake of learning, for the sake of feeding the voracious mind that sometimes manages to stay between my ears instead of flying away up in the clouds.

Some (glances pointedly at Nick Ig) may have discovered that I enjoy food immensely and make it my business not to miss a meal - or a dessert. Yet, even that delight of my body in it's sustenance pales in comparison with the craving of my mind for the delight of words of insight and profundity. At FOR YOU, I was shocked to find that I could devote my entire meal time to reveling in giving attention to the words of pastors without even missing the food. Indeed I did not even want the food! Even now on the occasions where a conversation plumbing such depths continues nearby, I find myself spellbound, tied to my seat, listening. It is with the utmost reluctance that I allow myself to be called away from the savory feast; but I must remind myself that it is not my Lord who speaks and Martha is sorely pressed for assistance.

All this to say that I purposely loiter (when I have spare time and energy, or must satisfy the listening/thinking craving) around people and blogs which tend to stimulate hard, demanding thought-labor on my part. But I seldom make my presence known. What would be the point? If I comment, the philosophers might feel it an annoyance and take their precious words elsewhere. Besides that, the moment I open my mouth, I expose my utter ignorance. In addition, I find few that truly understand or share my enjoyment in the twists and turns of hearty conversation about ideas and realities. For those who do not understand, my behavior could perhaps be quite puzzling and I might find non-existant motives impugned to myself to explain my loitering and commenting habits. For this reason I evesdrop on conversations and spy out other blogs as inconspicuously as I can. When I do comment, unless it is a person I am totally comfortable with, the comment is more with an aim to benefit the other person rather than express my own thoughts. There are exceptions.

(I guess, were I to be perfectly honest, I am often afraid of what other people might think of me and even more of what they might say. I know this is not right, but it is a very, very real fear. Would that my sinful heart could trust a little more.)

But sometimes, I find that I must think about some of the things which I read and hear. And in order to work through a rather large "think", I find it helpful to write. So I will write....

....about love.

Understand that I am taking you along on a developing "think". Who knows whether the ending conclusion I make after this post is completed will be drastically different - yes! maybe even contradict what I will here write. But the the "think" must be thought.

week-long intermission. Now I am back.

Almost two weeks ago, a certain post on the Four and Twenty Blackbirds caught my attention, abruptly, and for some unknown reason reminding me of a puzzling think which had begun about the time I first began to frequent the Emmausite youth blogs. Accordingly, I returned to the source of the source just in time for my train of thought to run itself off the tracks. But Pastor Stuckwisch's recent post recalled my previous ruminations.

So, the question is: Is there such a thing as "love at first sight" in the true Christian sense of the word "love"?

My first tendency would be to sarcastically say, "No. Of course such a concept is silly sentimentality." But is it?
Of course, I would not deny "infatuation at first sight". Some people are simply attractive and draw our attention and admiration. But is that true "love" which gives itself to it's neighbor, as Christ does to his church, not seeking to be served but to serve? I think not?

But wait! Is it impossible that a person could truly seek to serve their neighbor as Christ does from the moment they first meet? I think it would be foolish to pronounce this impossible. In fact, it just occured to me that perhaps we are all called to "love at first sight", yes, even before first sight, for our neighbors. Sometimes this means that we deny ourselves from satisfying the desires of what the world calls "love" in order to serve in true love.

So, I would not scorn the concept of "love at first sight" properly understood and defined. But I think there is another facet as well. Love is not just a warm, fuzzy, genial feeling of happy-go-lucky-ness with the world and all who are in it. Love has an object and acts for that object.

In some cases, the object is a brother or sister in Christ, other times, it is a sibling, a parent, a spouse. In each of these cases, the actions motivated by love find different forms of service. Obviously, I do not serve my brother as I do my mother. The form of service love takes in acting is determined both by the respective vocations of the two individuals and their respective personal needs.

But how can you fill a need when you do not understand that a need is present? This is where communication and understanding plays a big role in love. You must understand a person in order to recognize in what areas the love Christ gives to you can serve them.

But here's the problem. You don't understand or truly "know" a person the moment you set eyes upon him/her. Learning to understand better, though worthwhile, is difficult, and slow. Add "infatuation at first sight" to the mix and "getting to know" a person becomes even more difficult.

So I guess the point I'm trying to get at is that Love finds its place in service and service is limited until a person becomes better known. If one were to presumptuously assert that he/she "loves" a person (particularly in the romantic context) before he/she knows the other well, it might easily be said that the one making the assertion "loves" a person who does not exist - loves the person created out of his/her own mind.

Anyway...I'm not real certain about the last paragraph, but I'm toying with it.

Another blogpost caught my attention tonight, bringing back to my mind a rather sad comment I heard while eavesdropping:

A good friend was talking to a group of ladies and happened to mention several families at Emmaus who are blessed with five or more children.

The immediate response was: "Oh my ..." followed by silence. Then a Lutheran lady spoke up. "Don't they know about birth control at that church?"

Unfortunately, this is not shocking, though disheartening. One would wish that all Lutherans, yes! all Christians were duly catechized on life and reproductive issues. I wish I were so catechized. But at least I know that children are God's good gift and not to be spurned, avoided, or thrown away but received with thanks.

But I've stayed up an hour later than I promised myself I would. And the brain juices have kinda gelled up into a sticky mess. So I bid my dear reader, "Good Night."

A Conversation: Sorry

This isn't one of my most interesting posts (at least, it's not of the caliber of the posts I really keep this blog for) but I had to record a certain conversation which may shed light on the characteristic character of a couple characters.Understand that this is a shortened paraphrase of what took place, but Snap can testify to its overall veracity. I wish I could remember it as it happened, it would be more interesting that way, but I can't.

tq: Oh! Ow. My foot really hurts!

snap: I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to crush your foot with the seat.

tq: I know that, and I already told you that I forgive you.

A few minutes later, tq moves her foot to the brake and groans again.

snap: I'm soo sorry, TQ!

tq: It's ok. I told you I forgive you. Stop saying you are sorry.

snap: I'm sorry.

tq: No, no, no. Don't be sorry for being sorry. I just want to groan without you saying you are sorry again.

snap: Sorry.

tq: Stop saying sorry! I forgave you and I'm really, truly not mad at you. But if you keep saying sorry I'm might get upset.

snap: Sorry.

tq: When you say, "sorry," I feel guilty for making you sorry and then I feel sorry. Please, please, stop saying you are sorry.

snap: Sorry!

tq: {laughs}.................................

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Snuffling up Shampoo.

Someone please explain to me how it is possible to accidentally sniff a quantity of shampoo into one's nose thereby burning the nostrils and pharynx and such areas of the airway.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something remotely obscure and meant to befuddle your mind while my mind is otherwise occupied.

If you can read this, you are too far away.

Pray, interpret.

Must there be an interpretation?

What if there is no interpretation?

And no, I am not depressed. I am simply relatively elated and exhausted. Which means that I should not be typing. And which further means that I should not publish this post which I will proceed to do anyway.

I suppose that to make this post worthwhile I ought to document some of the circumstances which have precipitated the lack of anything of substance being published to this blog for the past few weeks. I am playing cook/nurse/chambermaid/servant/secretary/glass-breaker/lemonade spiller/ clothes washer/annoyer/abandoning-er/and whatever else is needed. I can't say that I've done a very good job. (Come one, I've only broken one glass. You'd think I could drop at least five!)

The Only Fabulous Harrison Person is at home, more or less both in my charge and acting as commanding officer. So far she has not had much to do. The first few days, people dropped by, but today she has seen no other face than mine (and of course, the talking heads squished flat on the talking screen).

The tasks to which I am put are not difficult, but they are consistent and regular, though not constant. This leaves me considerable time for day-dreaming and for late night, email loitering.
Today, I put the house in order, helped Karen wash her hair, did general cleanup, let in the Physical Therapist and the Nurse, made lunch, then bid OFHP farewell for the afternoon. I ran into town, bought rabbit feed, had keys made, (ran another secret errand for which I may later be loudly berated: Let the reader understand), arrived at home, and was immediately set to emptying my room into the living room. So now, all my earthly possessions - every single last one of them - are sitting in disorderly heaps and more orderly box stacks in the middle of family living quarters. I shed a few tears while packing things away. Jaff, my Giraffe has seen better days as has my Lady Bunny.

It almost seems as if I am putting to rest a section of my life. As if a volume has been completed and a sequel may shortly be written. What strikes me as so strange is the fact that many of the "laws" if you will, which governed the previous book, and if not the laws, then definitely the "rules of thumb", are no longer binding. My former thoughts, and dreams, and plans now seem either fulfilled or ... gone! And look where I will, I cannot find them again.

Another way in which I seem to be between sections of my life struck me tonight. All the specific plans and dreams I have ever made have dealt with the portion of my life between Kindergarten and the beginning of college. College was a goal - an endpoint. But now I find myself standing on the brink gazing at a horizon I cannot understand, thinking many thoughts which utterly amaze and abash me, trying to get my balance before I plunge into the storm looming ever nearer.

I am not at all what I thought I would be at this age and stage in life. I had dismissed many of the feelings of literary characters as sentimental extravagance meant to delight the imagination of the writer and reader, rather than actual emotions and thoughts when I was younger. Now, I begin to question my youthful preconceptions.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. I created schemas for interacting with peers and adults. I manufactured frameworks for understanding not only how adults would behave, but why they behaved in certain ways. In my mind, I thought I understood how my parents and others felt, thought and acted in response to various circumstances. According to what I thought I understood, I determined to act. In other words, I decided beforehand, what I would think, how I would feel, and how I would act, when I became the age I am now.

What do you know? It isn't working. Should I be surprised? No.

But since a book has closed tightly shut and no more can be written therein, and I find that I still have enough loose leaves left between that volume and the one to come, I ought to find out the rules and laws which govern the pages I am about to turn. There is just enough room left in the torn out pages to take notes. I am eager to learn. I hope to find time to feel out the lay of the land with my parents, pastors, friends before the next scene opens.

But some things do not change. They continue from one book to the next, from one age to another, and from the beginning to the end. Christ is He who was, and is, and is to come. He sharpened the pen, prepared the ink, brought the paper. He wrote the first word on the first page. He dedicated it to his Father and wrote His own Name across the cover. He bound the pages together. He wrote the chapters; and even when I tried to tear the pen away from Him and spilt the ink across the page, he turned the smudges into designs I could never have imagined. Many times I wept over the pages, for to me it seemed that what He had written stripped me of my heart's greatest desires. But then He turned the page and the story continued, and my heart was healed. Often I thought I understood where the tale was headed, so I planned the next chapter. But when He finally penned that portion, it was nothing like what I had thought or imagined. Were my imaginations then for nought? I do not think so, but that is not the topic at hand. Now at last, it seems He has finished the manuscript, and lo! I find it was only a prologue - a precursor to another volume. I am confused, and impatient. Do you call that a story? Where is the ending? What did that girl whose life you have written do? Wait! Perhaps this is the story of the Writer not of the Page that was written upon...

And there is another parchment being unrolled - the same as the previous, and yet different. I am not to be the writer of this book just as I was not the writer of the last. Too often I think of the previous scroll as merely a good example so that now I can take control and pen a good tale myself. That is a dangerous lie! For if I could spill so much ink on the pages when I had less guile, what grevious damage I should do now were I to hold the pen solely in my own faltering grasp! These coming pages differ from the previous ones only in story written upon them: the Writer and the Page remain the same.

The afterword of the first volume and the introduction to the second are being written. The content of those pages I cannot tell.

But I do not need to know! There is comfort here. The Author of my life knows what He will write. His name is on the book and that is enough. Nothing will end the story until He lays down His pen. His work is faultless. What have I to fear? Even the moments which seem so useless - the paragraphs which seems so nonsensical - are His gift, His pen flourishes.
Why should I be discouraged that I have done so little to make Another's story grand and glorious? What cause have I to despair over my lack of works, when no works of my own are needed?

My life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is my life appears, I also will appear with him in glory!

So ends a period of my life and begins another. But Christ continues. My baptism marked me at the beginning and will still mark me at the end. My sustenance is still the same Body and Blood of my Lord. My clothing is still the righteousness of Christ: His forgiveness. My life is still only in Jesus' Word. What else do I need to know?

I am naive and know not what to expect. But that is okay. I'm content to walk next to my Daddy with my hand in His. He knows the way even though I don't. He won't hurt me. He loves me. I am content.

Friday, July 11, 2008

OFHP Speaks!

A message ….

… from the Karen!

After numberless adventures, perils, mishaps, and jolly encounters with jolliful troubadours, the Overly Famous Harrison Person has landed herself in a Long Term Care Center just down the road. Here she will park for the time being. Which, being much nearer to Happy Sprouts Farm, means that we can visit her more often.

She has commissioned me to inform the general public (especially those who become easily “worked up”) that as she has her “best life now” without internet, telephone, or television remote, she will devote her time to “becoming a better her”.

And a random note: Daddy determined that the difference between Snap and Truthquestioner is that Truthquestioner has a moustache and Snap has a beard....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

La Vendee: Part I

“There is no more Vendée. It died with its wives and its children by our free sabres. I have just buried it in the woods and the swamps of Savenay. According to the orders that you gave me, I crushed the children under the feet of the horses, massacred the women who, at least for these, will not give birth to any more brigands. I do not have a prisoner to reproach me. I have exterminated all. The roads are sown with corpses. At Savenay, brigands are arriving all the time claiming to surrender, and we are shooting them non-stop... Mercy is not a revolutionary sentiment."

So wrote Francois Joseph Westerman, Brigadier General of the Revolutionary Government of France to the Paris “Committee of Public Safety”.
What crime had these “brigands” commited? For what were they crushed, massacred, and exterminated?

Would you like to know? As far as I can tell, these peasants died for their pastors. Yes, it is shocking. Shocking, because I cannot think of another instance where an entire province submitted to massacre for the sake of the men who administer Word and Sacrament. It is likely true that more factors played a part of the La Vendean uprising than "The Civil Constitution of the Clergy" – for instance, the levy of men imposed on all French provinces. But the demands on their priests pushed the peasants over the edge; they would not surrender either their physical or spiritual fathers to the bloody “mercy” of a revolutionary government which did not posses that sentiment.

So the peasantry did something unprecedented in the history of revolts, uprisings and revolutions (at least unprecedented as far as my meagre knowledge is concerned). They appealed to the aristocracy, their lords, for help. The entire province banded together to resist Parisian violence.

But the revolt was doomed before it had begun. Consider the odds: the whole of France versus La Vendee. The proponents of “Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite” wiped out all dissidents and rinsed the rag afterward. Even the soil was scorched. General Westerman speaks for himself; I need not add to his eloquence.

I have a dream: To research the full history of La Vendee – to understand what happened and why Vendee fought to the death for their clergy and lords. The few facts I know are mind-boggling, (mostly a result of reading G. A. Henty and Wikipedia) but they remain obscure. Not a single history book will inform you that in the days when all France threw off both rule and religion, a province of Frenchmen fought back – and peasant Frenchman at that! This is a dream that will likely never materialize, but once my curiosity is roused, who knows what will happen... (I guess the biggest barrier would be learning French to read source materials) .

Currently, I am looking for the memoirs of the Marquise de la Rochejacquelein, the wife of the Marquis Henri de la Rochejacquelein - a young Vendean noble (the youngest commander in the Royal Catholic Army, as the Vendean insurrectionists styled themselves). [The image below is Henri de La Rochejacquelein at the Battle of Cholet in 1793 by Paul-Emile Boutigny, (19th C.), Musée d'art et d'histoire de Cholet, Cholet, France.]

So far I have found only one copy and that at a Catholic University. Ah, well, I’ll keep looking. And will try Interlibrary loan.

Here is the insignia of the Vendean insurgents. Note that the French words mean, “God is King”.
All links and images are from Wikipedia. (Yeah, I realize that that's a real historical source..)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Be Merciful to Me, a Fool!

I cannot blog tonight. At least I cannot blog anything worth reading. I haven’t written anything worthwhile since before AMEN. Several pieces have been in the works, stewing on the back burner, so to speak, since the conference, but I think I shall abandon them. At least for tonight.

Part of the problems is that my thoughts refuse to be gathered together meaningfully. My heart rebels against my mind. My flesh struggles with both. So how could my mind actually put into words what my heart screams? And if this feat were possible, how then could my fingers write those words which my mind painfully manages?

So, tonight I submit to you a poem. Nay! Do not pass over the humble poetry as if it were unimportant to the message of this post. I do not always present you, dear reader, with idle, fanciful poems, nor do I supply you with the work of far better writers simply to amuse you or show you what type of writing I respect and appreciate. On the contrary, often – and tonight is one such moment – I shyly speak to you through the lips of another. The poet wrought the verses, but the plea might as well be mine.

The Fool's Prayer
Edward R. Sills

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head and bent his knee
Upon the monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but, Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

“ ‘Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

“The ill-timed truth we might have kept –
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say –
Who knows how grandly it had rung?

“Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders – oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”

Certain theological aspects of this poem are obviously skewed, but overall, I cry out with the jester. Men hurt and are hurt, sometimes purposefully, often not. But only with the Lord is there mercy. Though I can plead with the “King’s fool”, I all too often find myself in the role of the king – making sport of the sacred and being humbled and called to repentance by what I thought profane.
But Thou, O Lord, be merciful to me, a fool!

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I had the best borsch I have ever tasted tonight.

If you ask what borsch is, I will copy Anan and tell you to “Wikipedia it”. If you ask Mom what borsch is, she will skin you.

And if you like borsch, I might consider never speaking to you again.

And all you young men out there, if your wife ever serves borsch, eat it, and smile. Remember cultural experiences can't be bad for you.

And if I am not seen again on the face of this earth, you'll know that someone who loves borsch read this post.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


We have a very, very stupid cow. This morning as I was milking, Anna discovered that some time in the night, BW had forced his head into the dog-house and couldn't get it out.

We pulled and pushed - but to no avail. We took the top off the dog house and tried to turn his head every which way - but it was too big to fit through the hole. I don't know how he managed to get it in in the first place.

After a half hour of frustration, we found a saw and began cutting the poor beef's head out of the box. (We sawed the dog house, not the cow.)

It was quite pitiful: BW's head was drenched with sweat and he mooed quite mornfully.

At last we freed him and he renewed his pursuit of grass as if nothing had ever happened. Uggh!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Advice to those who happen to weed gardens

A word of warning, admonition, and encouragement to those who labor in the dust, in the heat, in the sweat, in the manure, among the herbaceous dreams

with the sun burning your ears, singeing your arms,
with the bugs buzzing and biting your back,
with weeds that twine themselves around plants and force you to become murderer as well as executioner,
with the knowledge that no matter how much you accomplish today, there will be more weeds on the morrow.

To you I speak; I mention no more hardships, for those to whom I speak know full well what dangers lurk in the vegetable patch.

Yet, Ye Stalwart Soldiers,

Beware of one thing more:

Wear a looooong shirt.

For in order to execute weeds, one must reach the weeds. And as the weeds reside on the ground, one's hands must be lowered to the ground. And to lower one's hands to the dirt, one must bend one's back. And the back that is bent is a good deal longer than a back that is not bent. Therefore, the same shirt that was more than sufficient before one's back was bent becomes a little less than adaquate to shield the skin. And the mercilous sun bends it's flaming rays upon that poor patch of skin till it is red roasted. And after that, every waistband of skirt, shorts, or pants rubs upon that poor, helpless, cruelly toasted strip even more so that at the end of the day it is raw and something other than pleasant.

So all ye who labor in the sweat and mire of endless weeding:

Make sure that your back doesn't get roasted, broasted, toasted, etc by your enemy - the Sun.

And that was ridiculous, but it doesn't matter. I can be ridiculous if I want to be.

Adventure into Domesticity

My first attempt at Strawberry Preserves.

At least it tastes decent. For the first batch, I followed the recipe exactly; it turned out too sweet (but still quite edible!) The second batch, I halved the sugar and it is still quite sweet.

The strawberries all floated to the top of the jars and their syrup stayed on the bottom. I don’t think that is the way it is supposed to work. Ah, well. Such is jam. Maybe, if I’m brave enough, I’ll give friends some of my concoction. Or maybe it would be better for them if I didn’t!