Friday, December 27, 2013

A day for celebrating and remembering


Donna and Alfred Hinderer
December 27, 1927 or 28
My dad, Alfred John Hinderer, was born.  He would have been or 85 or 86 today.  Sad, isn't it, that I don't even know for sure?  Dad passed away when I was but five years old.  Shortly before Christmas I think, but even that, I don't know for sure.  I think I've been told that my Grandpa Hinderer also passed away at about the same time.  Again, I think.  Seems like hard times for the family.  I can't even imagine what it was like for Grandma Hinderer to lose both her husband and her son within a few months of each other. 

I didn't even know Dad's birthday until the same day may years later.  In 1999, something very special happened to Joe and I on December 27.  Others told me at the time that it was doubly special because it had also been my dad's birthday.

Joe and Clara, ready to come home
But what happened on that same day in 1999?

December 27, 1999
Our sixth child and third daughter, Clara Annaliese, was born.  Although we hadn't planned it so, she was almost a Y2K baby.

If that's not enough special things in one day, pan forward another nine years.

Mary and Inge, when she was brand new
December 27, 2008
Our youngest child, our baby, Inge Kathryn, came on Clara's birthday but nine years later.  Can't believe she's five already!






Update 1/2/14
I'll change this again when I get the final details, but, I've found out my mom's birthday was August 10 or August 20, and my mom and dad's anniversary was the other of the two dates.

My dad died in January, not December.  So he'd already had his 45th birthday.  If he turned 45, in December of 1972, that would make his birth year 1927.  Therefore he'd have turned 86 at the time I originally wrote this post.  My mom, too, was born in 1927.

Monday, December 23, 2013

For Advent Meditation

Joe has done a nice series of posts for his theological blog, Diatheke, or διαθηκη (which google tells me means covenant.)  But I digress.  The point of this post is not to prattle about Greek or ἑλληνική.  But to talk about Joe's seasonally appropriate and educational posts on what are called, among those who know such things, the O Antiphons.

I'm going to put this in Plainer English.  And probably I'm wrong, but I'll have Joe read this later and correct me.  But if you don't need plainer English, feel free to click on the following links for his meditative posts on the O Antiphons.

This link will take you to the introductory post in the series, which Joe posted on December 16.  Or follow this link to get to the index tab which would include all the posts under the O Antiphons subject.  But you'll have to scroll down and then click on "earlier" posts to get to the beginning of the series.

An antiphon is a liturgical device in which the pastor/leader/chanter sings or speaks one part, to which the congregation responds in kind.  The style is often also used more generally in choral singing.  But that's not the subject of this series of posts.  This post is talking about, among other things, a particular set of liturgical antiphons called the O Antiphons.

Now, more liturgical jargon, which I'm going to try to make plain without sacrificing accuracy.  In the historical liturgical church year, each day has a set of Bible readings which can be used by the church or in personal Bible Study and devotion.  Many hymnals list these in the front pages. 

A person looking for these resources might search for pericope, lectionary, daily readings, daily missal, or probably other words and phrases, too.  There are two primary series of these readings used among Lutherans today.  The Historic Lectionary and the 3-Year Lectionary Cycle.

The Historic Lectionary uses the traditional arrangement of readings, that has stayed mostly consistent from as far back as the church has records of such things.  The sequence of readings is arranged according to the traditional church year, and within the course of a given year, teaches the whole of Scripture from a doctrinally thematic standpoint.  The 3-year cycle teaches all of Scripture from a "let's read through the whole Bible in 3-years standpoint," for lack of a better word. 

There are stronger and weaker points to each and this article is not, definitely not, going to get into that.

Because I want to talk about the O Antiphons, remember?

Ok, now here I'm a bit sketchy, and I can't even ask my resident liturgical expert, since he's out on visits.  Which is in fact his job.  So I'll have to wing it.  Much of this will be based upon 30-some year old memories from my Lutheran elementary school  hymnology classes, in which we learned about not only hymns, but also about the many mysterious and lesser used parts of the hymnal and how to use them.

So, for this part, I'm going to pull out my old TLH (The Lutheran Hymnal, Concordia Publishing House, 1941) since that's the hymnal with which I was raised.

If I open that particular hymnal, I'll do it very carefully because it's pretty old and well-used.  In fact, I can still read on the inside cover where my mom wrote, "Merry Christmas, 1973."  I can also see where one of my school classmates added a, "Hi Mary!" to the inscription.  I can't remember who wrote that, but the name Brenda comes to mind.  I can picture a face with her, too.  And a last name.  But I'm not sure if it's right.  Wow, isn't that weird how people can come and go in one's memory?  I haven't thought of her for years, and now I know for a fact that she wrote Eddy Rabbit's name on the cover of her notebook and when I asked her who Eddie Rabbit was, she looked at me like I just crawled out from under a rock.  She also could draw a nice barn and hillside as she doodled.  Ok, weird.

Again, I digress.  The O Antiphons, Mary.  Concentrate...

If I open the TLH to page 54, I find a list of what is called Introits, Collects, and Graduals for the Church year.  Mysterious sounding words indeed.  But they basically refer to the opening sentences and the prayers during a service for each Sunday of the church liturgical year.  On page 95, I find a list of what is called Invitatories, Antiphons, Responsories, and Versicles for the church year.  These are more liturgical materials that a pastor may or may not choose to put into his weekly services in place of or along with the liturgies as they are written.  And throughout the pages following these, I can find such things as Prayers, Litanys, Suffrages, Canticles and Psalms.  More mysterious sounding names, but feel free to think of them as prayers and psalms.  And finally after the Psalms, I find the charts for all the church year devotional materials.  (The TLH used the historic lectionary, since the various 3-year plans mostly came about in the 60s and 70s.)  Besides the weekly readings, which are the readings used by a pastor in church on Sunday, if he uses the historic lectionary, I can also find in the TLH, a chart with daily readings for each of the weeks of the church year.  Those front mysterious parts of a hymnal are a bountiful harvest, a veritable treasure trove, of devotional materials. 

But even in the rich pages of the TLH, or whatever hymnal you use in your church today, even there, they don't list all the devotional materials that have been used throughout the ages as tools to help focus our meditation upon one or another part of the church year and therefore also one or another truth of Scripture.

Remember the O Antiphons?  I mentioned them way back when.   In the linked series of articles, Joe explains this little gem of devotional material that has been called in the church for many hundreds of years, the O Antiphons.  Most of you know the familiar Christmas hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  This hymn is a summary of the O Antiphons.  As Joe explains in his introductory article, the O Antiphons, and also this hymn when all the verses are used, teaches the whole of Scripture.  It teaches the attributes of God in all their gracious and glorious splendor.  The entire story of Salvation.

The O Antiphons are traditionally used during the season of Advent, particularly the seven days leading up to Christmas Day.

Besides the introductory article Joe did on the 16th, he  wrote an article for each of the following days, ending today, the December 23.  Be sure to bookmark this series of devotions now to use next year, starting on December 16. 

But read them right now, too.  Or one a day for the next several days.  It really doesn't matter what time of year one reads and meditates on various segments of the Bible after all.

Thanks, Joe for teaching me about this worship and meditation tool.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oops, I did it again!

This is the first day I feel normal in about two months.  I think I finally kicked that stupid bug that had been wearing me out.  Last week was crazy with snow days and car troubles, but we made it through, and I even made some progress on the longer term deeper organizing and cleaning. 

Weekend was busy with residual car junk, ... the kids were asking about one obligation or another that's coming up in the next weeks, and all I could say was, "My brain is full of car junk.  Ask me next week after I've recovered."  (Regular readers will recall my difficulties these days maintaining my mental acuity during times of stress.)

Sunday morning I needed to do some prep for the busy Christmas program prep day we had planned for the Sunday School kids, with drawing names, and assigning parts, etc.  It gets a little wild with the kids filing past the teachers,  at each station picking up a note to parents, lyrics sheet, drawn name, and part, or then getting it all stapled together at the last stop.  I wanted to be good and ready, so I got there early (at least for me.)

Imagine my chagrin when I realized the church ladies were also there early, prepping for the meal for which I was supposed to bring a hotdish.  Since I'm assigned the gluten free one, it's pretty noticeable if I forget, right?  Not to mention our GF eaters might be a little dissappointed having to leave a church dinner still hungry.

Shoot!  Oh, and that reminded me of something else later in the day I also forgot.  Ladies' Aid Christmas party for which I didn't yet have a gift!  Way to go, Mary.

So I got through School with the help of the teacher, helpers and some of the older kids.  We had opening prayers.  We did the December birthday pennies and gift.  Got all the info handed out to all the kids.  And then quickly.practiced through the Hallelujah Chorus.

I ran up to the parsonage to throw together a hotdish.  Canned sweet potatoes, cooked turkey from the freezer, a bag of corn and some diced green peppers, also from the freezer, a quick white sauce poured over the top.  Shoved it into the oven at 400 and fly out the door.   Not a typical Minesotan hotdish.  But at that point I hadn't much for options.  And I got back to church before the sermon.  I felt a little bit like Martha of Bethany, though, missing the first part of the service.  :-(

After church, I ran up to the house to get the hotdish out of the oven.  Plunged a fork into it to see if it had heated through.  Hmmmm, warm but not hot in the middle.  But the edges are bubbly and even browned.  I quickly stirred the bubbling cauldron-like edges to the middle, noted the steam rising from all parts, put the lid on and raced back down to church.  Arrived looking as though I'd got the world by the tail and was feeling cool as a cucumber, right?

I relaxed to enjoy all the wonderful food and company for which our congregations are kind of reknowned.  Had a nice and quick visit with Kory and Carol and Aaron and Jill.  There was even still a spot open when Joe got done shaking hands and got his food, so I had the rare treat of sitting with my husband at a church dinner.

After finishing the dinner, I took a deep breath for the next rush.  Ran up to the house and crocheted a quick headwrap with flower for the LA gift exchange.  I was running a bit late, (big surprise there?)  so Clara and Sophie helped me with things like tucking in yarn ends and gathering a gift bag.  Flew back down to church, and again, attempted to put on the facade of being all cool and organized and in control!   haha.  Am I good or what?

It was a nice party and a fun afternoon.  Muriel loved her headwrap, and since the church was kind of chilly, she put it on right away and wore it the rest of the afternoon.  It looked very cute on her, if I do say so myself.   I sort of wish I'd had the camera along. 

So today, ... today I'm relaxing and crocheting.  I have several Christmas time orders to fill.  And after such a weekend, I need to rest.  I already took one nap this morning.  Perhaps I'll take another. 

But one thing's for sure.  When this mom says, ""My brain is full of car junk.  Ask me next week after I've recovered,"  she means it.  Don't even bother.  It doesn't matter how important it is, it's pretty likely she'll forget anyway.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Interesting Reads While Waiting

Lilly Pullitzer velvet men's trousers, circa 1970
Yesterday I had one of our several rumble down autos worked on.  Kelly L. helped me get the car started and followed me into town to make sure I made it safely.  He was also going to give me a lift home, if I needed to leave the car for any length of time.  Since Kelly had some business to transact at the Freedom Living Center, I waited in the very well-appointed main sitting room there until he was done with his business. 

While waiting, I picked up a Martha Stewart Living.  I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the whole Martha Steward thing.  The love comes, of course, from all the decorating ideas she promotes.  Her taste appeals to me.  The thought of having leisure to care how, for instance, the tops of my pie crusts are decorated, or whether the latest fresh flower arrangement is seasonally correct has some draw.  But there's the rub.  It's all so silly.  So vain.  So polar opposite of the reality in which I live. 

But every once in awhile, I like to peruse the pages in some waiting room or another.  Truth be told, once, ... I even bought one.  What a silly use of that $7.50 or whatever it was.  I can't imagine now what possessed me.  I must been gratifying some indulgent need for the fantasy of living a pampered existence.

Two of the many things I passed over yesterday stuck in my memory.  The first is an indicator of how Northern Minnesotan I've become.  The title of the article was something like, "What's your favorite big game recipe?"  Really?  Big game recipes in Martha Stewart Living?  I had to look twice.  And then thrice.  Then I scanned the recipes and was momentarily confused.  Chip and vegetable dips.  Appetizers and finger foods.  Crock pot fare.  But nothing that looked like it contained venison, elk, or moose.

"Aha!"  thought I.  "Big game.... I bet they're talking about a sporting event.  Perhaps the super bowl."

I checked the cover, and sure enough, it was the February 2013.  Big game recipes.  I get it now. 

I giggled at the thought of finding wild game recipes in Martha Stewart Living.  The whole East Coast chic thing doesn't really seem to fit with taking a rifle and firing it at a wild animal.  Those cute and fuzzy, noble beasts, falling to the ground and bleeding out.  The eyes that a moment before gleamed with life, fading to dull.  The skinning and gutting.  Just the notion cracks me up.  ""What's your favorite big game recipe?" 

The second article that caught my interest was on collecting.  The magazine featured a handful of collectors, photos of their collections, and a brief interview of how they got started and where they find their pieces.  

A colorful patchwork blazer for the man in your life
or perhaps trousers with an aquatic life theme?
Grassland birds?
And for the very fanciful man, fuchsia unicorns
One of the collections was Lilly Pulitzer Men's Stuff.  Wild floral prints.  Animal designs.  Bright citrusy colors.  For men. 

According to the article, they were quite the thing among the upper crust Palm Beach golf set.  It totally cracks me up. 


Lilly, whose mother was heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, was educated in all the best schools for a young socialite of the time.  She married a Palm Beach area citrus grower, who also had famous connections, being the grandson of the Pulitzer after whom the prize is named.  Lilly opened a citrus drink stand for the upper crust, in one of Palm Beach's premier shopping areas, just off Worth Avenue.  She discovered she needed clothing that would camouflage the juices that got splattered while working.  She designed a handful of sleeveless dresses to wear while working.  Her brightly colored dresses were so well-liked that she started making them to sell to others, and so began the line. 

Imagining the 1970s upper crust men wearing these prints on the golf course and while socializing tickles my imagination.  What a colorful time!  Do a google image search on Lilly Pulitzer Men's Stuff to see a far wider variety of colors and designs than I have shown here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Few of Life's Little Ups and Downs

It was a good news and bad news kind of day.

1) We started the day today running down to McIntosh to get the car which wouldn't start for Louisa when she got off work last night at 11:00.  (Thanks to the Oklee area co-worker who kindly helped Louisa out last night after having worked a double shift.)  The car has been problematic since the summer, but it's what we have, so we've been trying to nurse it along.  We made the decision that it was no longer reliable enough to trust for her to go back and forth to work all those miles in the cold.  (Bad)

2)  After contemplating all the various things that might have been the problem last night, today the car started with just a little boost from the van via jumper cables.  We took it over to Fosston to the ever capable Dustin and Adam at Carco.  (Good)

3)  Dustin and Adam don't have time to work on it until next week Wednesday.   Our good van is in the shop getting the deer damage repaired, so that left us with the prospect of two drivers with work obligations (Louisa and Joe) and only one vehicle.  Only a kind of, sort of, sometimes functional vehicle, AKA the creeper van, which has really crummy winter tires that scared me all last winter.  Oh, and the headlights only sometimes work if the car warms up first and the door is slammed just so.  Oh, and the gas gauge is shot, we have to use the trip odometer to keep track.  The speedometer isn't accurate.  The heater van hums with a very annoying high pitched hum, until one drives over rumble strips or a railroad track, after which it will run normally for a few miles.  The radio is down to one speaker that rattles like things are falling off the car.  The back seats have holes rusted through the floor in spots.  And once since we replaced the battery the van didn't start.   (Bad)

4)  We have Jeremy's vehicle here which we've been wanting to get into working order before sending it down to him in Granite Falls.  .  Since the car sat outside for over a year, we want a few things checked out.  Hoses and wires and fluids, etc.  Oh, and we're going to have him blow the engine area, to make sure all the leaves and mouse nesting material is off the engine block.  Jeremy cleaned most of it out before he moved, but the wimpy little shop vac we have still left some debris.  We're happy that Scott's able to get it in so soon.  (Good)

5)  But that still leaves us with four services and two work shifts, just tonight and tomorrow, not to mention the ride up to Tami and Jim's in Grygla for Thanksgiving, which we're hoping to be able get to.  And one van.  (Bad)

4)  But we have very generous friends and neighbors who have often come to our rescue.  When I called our friend Lana to see if we could use Brad's older car, she dissuaded us based on the fact that the heater in it is one of those "only occasionally functioning" varieties.  kind of like so many things on the Creeper van.  But Lana generously offered us her almost new and very nice car for a few days.  (Good)

5)  I took Louisa over to get Lana's car and left my purse there.  Duh, I can't figure out why I even took in into the house for the 30 seconds I was there.  (Bad)

6)  In spite of the other commotion and the missing purse, I was still able to get back into Oklee to pick up Elsie in time to get to the chiropractor in  Thief River on time.  (Good)

7)  We ran out of time to get all the way downtown to mail Aunt Aimee's afghan, so she'll have to wait an extra few days.  :-(  (Bad)

8)  In spite of the 155 miles I put on the car today, I still managed to photo copy some stuff for the Sunday School kids for the Christmas program and serve my kids meals at mostly the proper time.  I didn't wipe out on the slick spots on the roads from this morning's snowfall.  And most importantly, we got home in time for Joe to make his 5:00 Mt. Olive church service, with a few minutes to spare.  In fact, we even beat the school bus after we passed it as it was accelerating after stopping at at Alyssa's house.  (Good)

9)  When I got home, Clara had mixed up crust enough for four Gluten Free pies!  Yeah, Clara!  (Good)

10)  And perhaps most exciting of all to my Mommy heart, Aunt Nyla called just after I got home with news of Matthew.  He's officially finished with all the initial Marine Corps training.  He'll be in the Twin Cities tonight at around 9:00.  Nyla's daughter (Joe's cousin) Christina and her husband, Troy, will pick Matt up at the airport tonight and get him to Nyla's.  Joe's parents Jerry and Bergetta will come to their place for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and take Matt home with them where his truck is waiting.  Thank you all for caring for him so well.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On the pursuit of well-being in a sin-filled word

Believe it or not, sometimes, ... yes, even I, ... spout my opinions.  (For those of you who are not frequent readers, that's supposed to be irony.  I'm very, very well-known for spouting.  Loudly.  And when in person, it's often accompanied by wild gesticulations.)

One of the things that sometimes wears on me as a mother is the whole notion of health.  The health of the kids, the health of the mom.  Physical health, Emotional health, Spiritual health, ... I get tired of thinking about health.  
 
There are so many health concerns in the world and so many answers.  To immunize or not?  Which diet is the healthiest?  Which children have which food sensitivities?  Is it chronic fatigue, lyme's disease, depression, hormone imbalance of any number of varieties, insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, or just what?
 
And after ten kids, and 20 years of parenting, not to mention 40 some years of life in this world, for me, it's all just got to be in God's hands. 
 
I have too much on my plate, and our budget is too constricted to do anything more than what we're doing. 
 
The way I see it, the way the Bible tells us, this is a sinful and broken world. 
 
If it's not one thing, it would be something else. 
 
Way back when, I started researching all this junk for a variety of childhood illness related reasons, (chronic ear problems, ADD type stuff, autism, Aspbergers, skin issues, ...)   And throughout the years different research for myself, ... things like depression, PMS, chronic fatigue, metabolism, etc. 

There are a whole host of ideas out there.  Many good and well researched.  And many cockamamie. Some people have skills and concentration and time and interest to research it all.  I simply do not.  I mean, it's all interesting to me.  And fascinating, too, all the different ways that are outside the mainstream, where people have found relief from one thing or another.

One friend was convinced Jeremy's ear troubles were from yeast (The Yeast Connection). There was the potato/alcohol connection thing someone recommended for dealing with mood swings  (Potatoes not Prozac). 

Treating various illnesses with homeopathy, the science of which claims that the smaller the particle of remedy, the better the result.  And for some things, when combined with about a hundred lifestyle changes, it seems to help.

There's hyper- and hypo- glycemia, glucose intolerance and other metabolic disorders.  Celiac disease, fibro-myalgia, and other auto-immune disorders.  The list goes on and on.  

And at it's core, it's all simply that we live in a sinful and broken world.  Things are WRONG with our bodies.  They are not and will not work right.

And we, as sinful people living in this sinful world, making our way as best we can.  As my friend and mentor Dort P. put it, we muddle through.

By God's grace, our mainstream and alternative medicines sometimes offer solutions that help alleviate the results of this brokenness.  And other times, we suffer along with St. Paul.  We bear the thorns in our flesh.  We must simply live with the problem.  And with St. Paul, God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Given the same situations, each of us must make our own decisions.  Is it time to do more research and try more things.  Or is it time to bear the thorn in our flesh?  Each of us is different.  Each situation, personality, financial situation, location, ...  We're all different people and will make different decisions.

Sometimes, due to new or different information, a new or different perspective in life, the same person will make different choices at different times.

It's all part of the challenge of living under God's grace, but in a broken world.

It's easy to look back with a new and different perspective, and carry regrets about choices we made in the past.  If only I had known ...  or my son or daughter's life could be so much better, ... or I wish I had tried ...,  or what have you.

And yet we know that by God's grace, according to His wisdom and timing, living under His providential care under the grace of Christ's forgiveness, we chose the best we could for that part in our life.  We muddled through. 

We simply are where we are today.  Each day.  Serving our Lord according to the talents and abilities God has given us.

Sinning as we all do.  Failing to do those things we ought and instead doing those things we ought not to do. 

But also clothed in Christ's righteous wedding garment put on us at our baptism and through faithful use of the Word and Sacrament, we serve God.   Doing the work God lays before us each day.   According to our abilities and interests and choices.

All of us.  We all have broken parts.  Emotionally, physically.  Things that simply aren't right.  We sometimes find one solution, other times another.  And we carry on.  We continue, as we're able.  We fulfill our daily vocations, as best we can. 

And we know we will sin.  We know we will fail.  But we keep putting one foot in front of the other, resting assured in God's Grace that He will most importantly, lead us to heaven in the end; and secondarily use us, broken as we are, to His Glory.

I think I've probably mentioned this passage before, but it's so profound to me, especially with regard to life choices and mistakes, I'm going to write about it again.  It offers great hope for me in those times when I have to question and re-evaluate decisions, past and present.

It's just a little passage, really.  Eleven words in the book of Hebrews. "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."  (Heb. 11:20)  Just eleven words.  So terse.  But so full of comfort in this world of sin.

The passage itself doesn't show all of the Bible's truth.  But it reflects a particular concrete example of how God sees us through faith in the righteousness of Christ.

If you  haven't read it in awhile, refer back to the account of Jacob and Esau in Genesis.  Their birth and younger years are recorded briefly in chapter 25, starting at verse 19.  The account of Isaac blessing his sons, is recorded in chapter 27.  Read on to the resolution, which doesn't come until chapter 33. 

God, in His Holy Word, has recorded for us both the good and the bad in His people.  He shows us time and time again that we simply cannot make it on our own.  Even the Biblical heroes fall, time and time again.

In the account of Isaac, Jacob and Esau, our human wisdom sees stubborn old Isaac not wanting to bless his sons according to God's will and His prophecy before the boys were born.
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
We see the treachery of Rebekkah and Jacob, trying to force God's will (which happens to also be their will) to be done.  But through human deception, rather that trusting God's promise and providence.

Later we see the pain of Isaac, when he realizes what he has done.  He's crushed and heartbroken, and angry.   His wife and son have betrayed him.

Esau is filled with bitterness that turns to hatred,
So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Jacob has to flee for his life.

Rebekkah and Isaac must still live together as husband and wife after this great betrayal.

It all seems so wrong.  And it is, indeed a story filled with the tragedy of sinful decisions.

And yet, in Hebrews 11, in the list of Biblical heroes, Isaac is listed among them. 

On account of faith.  "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."

By faith, through Christ's righteousness, God declares Esau righteous. 

A hero. 

So to with us.  We will always sin.  Our poor decisions will continue to cause pain to ourselves and others.  But we, too are declared heros.  We stand righteous before God, through Christ.

And not only that.  But also, for Christ's sake, God worked it out in the end for Isaac.  Likewise for us.  He manipulates all our human flubs, somehow, and uses them to His glory. 
 
I can't tell you how those eleven words have brought me comfort throughout the years.  "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."

Raising children can seem like such a great and consuming responsibility.  Especially in today's world.  We parents and families today are indulged.  We have the luxury of mostly not having to wonder where each meal will come from.  We mostly don't wonder how we'll cloth our children or where we'll find shelter each season. 

We have time and luxury to worry about things like diet and health, emotional and physical.  And even spiritual.  And in so worrying, we often take too much on ourselves.  We think we are the only ones who can do this.  It's all on us.

Are we making the right choices.  Are we  providing the best.  Are we giving enough.  Are we giving too much?  Are we setting a good enough example.  Are we strong enoughHow can we read the Bible enoughHow do we give our children good morals without making them self-righteous

It's ALL ON US!

But it's not.  Not really.  And in reality, this temporal world is all vanity anyway.  Here today and tomorrow cast into the fire. 

It's not all on us, but God.  His righteousness on us.  That wedding garment that we simply wear.

But how, we wonder, how to do that in daily life?

Focus on the ONE THING NEEDFUL.  Put as much effort and time into the temporal well-being of our families as we can each day.  To the best of our abilities.  With the wisdom and resources at our disposal.
And rest assured, every hour, every minute, in the eternal promises of God.  The knowledge that like Isaac, we will screw up.  But in the end, we'll be a heroes.  Heroes who's only act of heroism is the righteous covering given us by Christ.  That covering which allows God to see us as a heroes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My latest favorite pork roast

Keep in mind I don't really follow recipes or measure, so all amounts are approximate.  Cooking time and temp, too.  Most of my meat is butchered at home or a local locker, so I don't even know the weights of my roasts.  It's all a guess.  But this will give you the starting point for a wonderful way to do pork.

Curried Pork Roast
Pork roast
salt
pepper
curry
oregano
sugar
apples
onions

Times and temps
Last night I had two pork roasts, one perhaps 2-3 lbs, the other maybe 4-5.  I would have preferred to bake them at low (270-300) for about 5-7 hours, but I didn't get them in soon enough.  I ended up doing them at 325 for about 3 hours.  They were cooked through, and mostly tender; but another hour would have made them fall-apart tender.  I baked my roasts in a small roaster.  Medium would have been better, but I didn't realize how large the one roast was until I already had the smaller one dirtied. 

A quick google search shows me I could read for days about cooking times and temps and still not have it all figured out.  There is the safety issue, the lean vs. more marbled issue, pastured vs confined, etc.  There's no exact rule of thumb that encompasses all of it.  From what I could see quickly scanning a few pages, today's regular supermarket pork is alleged to be best reaching an internal temp of 160.  "They say" that will kill any germs and yet leave the pork juicy and succulent.  "Others say" that you must maintain an internal temp of 190 for an extended period of time to slowly melt the collagen that will give your meat a silky texture and offer maximum health benefits. 

What I know is that lower temps for longer times will give you a tender and juicy end result.  I think the meat roasting gurus call it low and slow. 

Seasoning

1 T salt
1 T curry
1 T sugar
1 t oregano
1 t pepper

Mix together and rub all over meat.






Put into roaster or crock pot.


Fresh fruits and vegies
two apples
one large onion
sprinkle apple and onion slices over the roast

Consider celery and carrots, too.  Or an orange, cranberries, or whatever sounds good.  I really like fruit with pork.  Apples, onions, and celery go well with curry.  I don't really like carrots with curry, but that doesn't mean you won't.  I can imagine that oranges and cranberries would be wonderful, but I don't know whether I've tried them or not.  The curry in this is not terribly strong.  It adds a kind of warm glow that goes well with the meat and the slight tang of the fruit.  Subtle, but really, really good.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Definite Comfort Food Success

Meals around here have been stuck in the "one of those days," rut lately.  Too little meat in the freezer, too little forethought to have anything thawed in time, too little maternal energies, ...  I fear, too many excuses, right?  I've been using many, many eggs, and canned elk or venison and bear, since it's quick and easy.

I prefer to have Sunday Dinner in the oven before church on Sunday, especially when we're on the late service schedule.  Sunday school is at 10:00, and church at 11:00.  Since that service is the last of three between which the pastor has to rush on a Sunday morning, whichever church has the late service often starts late.

Yesterday was a late late-service day.  We got out of church closer to 12:30 than 12:00.  Joe had to  run to a quick visit after church.  So I knew dinner would be later still. 

Which actually worked to my advantage since I had not begun work on our family dinner before I left for Sunday School.  I had taken a couple of pounds of ground beef from the freezer before church and set it on a cooling rack to thaw.  But that was the extent of my planning.

I had a few carrots in the fridge at the stage I'll call the beginnings of being slimy.  I had some cauliflower that was getting a little gray at the edges of the florets.  I had an unopened quart of half and half.  And I had some dried garden herbs from a previous year I've been trying to remember to use up.

"Hmmm," thought I, "I can do something with that." 

And what follows is the delicious result.

Creamed Cauliflower and Carrots to serve over meat and starch of your choice
1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into largish bites
1 large onion, sliced or wedged
4-6 medium carrots peeled, and cut into bit sized chunks
fat of choice for sauteing (I used 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 lard)
1/4 c (small handful) whole dried sage leaves
1/4 c (small handful) dried parsley
1/2 qt half and half (or a little more)
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/3 c corn starch

Variation, ... use fresh cream rather than half and half.  You can probably omit the corn starch thickening if you do this.

In a dutch oven, cook the vegetables and herbs until tender-crips in about 4 tbs fat of your choice.  This takes about 15-20 minutes, on medium to medium-high heat.  If you keep the lid on while they are cooking, they will kind of half-steam half-saute, rather than browning in the oil.  Stir periodically.

While vegetables are cooking, you can prepare the starch and meat you want to serve alongside.  I cooked up some white rice.  Brown rice, potatoes, or pasta would also be good.  Or toast, biscuits, or English muffins.  I browned some ground beef and added the last half of a jar of salsa.  Sliced and cooked chicken breasts, pork chops, or steamed shrimp would go well.  Or bacon and eggs. 

When the vegetables are still a little bit firm, pour half and half over them until vegetables are covered and the amount of liquid is to your liking.  When the liquid returns to simmering, thicken with the cornstarch dissolved in water.

Salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for two minutes more.

Ladle creamed vegetables over your choice of carbs and meat. 

Mmmm.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Thoughts on Depression, Part II, one year later

Oh, how I hate this depression thing.  See when it was just a little bit, and I could jump back into life after a few days or weeks, I could pretend.  Now that I took the plunge and sought treatment, I'm labeled.  Every time I have a down time, I worry.  "Is it overcoming me again?  Is this just a little funk, or is it the Big Darkenss?  The Abyss.  The Nothingness."

Isn't that a charming way to start a post?  I've been really struggling lately.  Struggling with energy.  I could sleep all day long.  Most days even just standing and putting one foot in front of the other requires supreme effort.

I wrote last fall about the image of withdrawls and deposits I associate with this whole depression thing.  If I  have too many withdrawals in too short a time, or if the withdrawals are only few but big, I need to take time to slow down and refuel.  And with this depression thing, the positive balance slips away more quickly, and replenishes more slowly than it ought.  That's the primary lingering symptom which I still notice.  Or perhaps it's simply the effects of aging, and I'll always have this difficulty.  Who knows?

Either way, it makes me mad.  And sometimes scared.

I have been reminded lately of the Impatient Pot about which I wrote last winter.

I was disappointed last spring that I was not able to go off prozac.  I really, really don't want this to be a lifelong need.  I remember when I first started taking  medication for depression.  I was frustrated that I'd have to be on meds for a whole year.  An entire year of having to add this artificial chemical to my body to help my brain work right.  Or to screw it up.  Who really knows, right?

But when spring came this year, I was still seeing progress being made and and healing coming together.  I didn't want to risk a plateau in that progress and healing, when I still had what felt like miles to go to be well.  And I think that was the right choice.

I had a great summer.  Not 'great' in the sense of having many wonderful times.  Although there were definitely some of those, too.   But 'great' in the sense of catching up.  Making progress.  It was a very, very busy summer.  But throughout all the changes, and running, and obligations, I made progress.  Rather than getting knocked about, being pummeled by all the busy-ness, I moved forward.  I had fewer down days.  The many withdrawals of the busy times, physical labors, and mental overload didn't lay me flat.  I was able to move forward, catching up little by little, on the years' worth of behind-ness that defines my homemaking.

But now it's fall again.  I'm in a funk.  I feel the emotional drain.  Too many withdrawals.  So I rest.  And I try to find ways to refuel.  But the refueling is too slow.  And sometimes, too hard.

I haven't yet felt the darkness and nothingness of a full-blown depression closing over me again.  I'm not yet to the I-can't-remember-what-it-feels-like-to-be-alive state.  But I confess I've been a little bit worried.  A little nervous that it's coming.

Then I remind myself that I felt exactly like this a year ago.

I make myself notice the little things.  Even amidst the low energy days, there's good news.

For one, notice the the date on that fall post I linked above.  The one that talks about the funk I was in last fall.  It was written in mid September.  I made it a month longer this fall before that feeling took over.  I bounced back last fall, and likely I will this fall, too.

I talked to Joe about my symptoms the other day, and the fear I sometimes feel over them.  "Should I call Dr. Winjum and ask him up to my dose?  Has it come to that?"

Then I roll my eyes.  Here's the lady who used to prefer everything the hard way.  "Wallow through it.  God's teaching you something while you're low.  Rely on Him, not on meds."  And now I simply want to take a higher dose just to feel better.  I feel kind of like a junky. 

But I think, just getting the possibility of further medical intervention out on the table helped.  Joe knows I've been struggling.  He knows the dirty laundry is piling up and the dishes are not always finished.  The floors are not swept.  And very often, he has to cook.

Ugh!  Just putting it in writing makes me feel so bad.  "Exactly what have you been doing, Miss Mary?  Doesn't sound like a whole heck-of-a-lot."  And it's true.  It's bad when getting dressed feels like a great feat.  Or putting some left-overs in the oven for supper is almost more than I can manage.

To answer the above question, "I've been sleeping.  And crocheting.  And reading."

About one day in five, I can manage to accomplish something.  But when there are ten mess-makers in the houseten people dirtying clothes and dishes and floorsone day in five is simply not enough.  And so my family suffers.

"Where's a towel, Mom?  Are there any clean towels around here?"

"Are we having rice and beans for supper again?"

"Did this dish washer run or not?  The dishes look dirty."

And so on.

But I try to hold on to the little things.  There are good things, too, if I can remember to notice them.

We've managed to get all the way through a read-aloud already this fall.  In the few evenings we are organized enough to have the bedtime-and-prepare-for-the-next-morning routine done early enough, we've read Marguerite de Angeli's The Door in the Wall.  It's not a long book, but I chose it that way so that we could actually finish it.  I think we'll do A Cricket in Times Square next.  Or maybe Riding the Pony Express.  Or Twenty-One Balloons.  Something that the littles will be able to get into.  That way there's motivation for them to get their evening responsibilities accomplished in a timely manner.

And even this evening routine.  That's progress, too.  This is the first time since my kids started in public school four years ago, that I have energy enough left before bedtime to make sure they're prepared for the morning.  "Homework, backpack, coat, shoes, school clothes.  Jammies on, dirty clothes down the chute, teeth brushed."  If they get done soon enough, we get to read.  If not, it's devotion and bed.  But simply to have the routine in place is so much better.  And it's real tangible progress.

I have two kids home for school this year.  Again, that's progress.  Clara and Sophie never wanted to go to school.  But I didn't give them  a choice.  I couldn't.  Now I feel like I've come far enough that I am able to give them that choice.  Progress.

But there have been so many withdrawals lately.

The days are shortening.  The landscape is undergoing it's seasonal fade.  I have fewer reasons to be outside.

Many, many transitions in the last several months.

And more immediately, we took a big trip.  We came home and jumped into school.  That whole vanload of stuff needs to be cleaned up, organized and put away.  Yes, I know, it's been over a month.  Almost two months, in fact.  But imagine having time to air out, or launder and re-roll ten sleeping bags, car pillows, and two tents.  Haul and stack six or eight camping chairs.  A camp stove.  Two coolers.  Wash and re-pack all the camping dishes and cookware.  And so on.  It's a huge job when we're talking about our family.  And with them in school, and involved in various outside the home things, there's not many hours for them to help.  It's mostly done, but not quite.  I still have three bins of bedding stuff to label and a few odds and ends to repack.  Then to carry those last three bins and our big camping supply tote down to the other garage.  Probably only about a 1/2 hour job, but still, ...

The neighbors' garden produce came pouring in.  (Thankyou, thankyou to Joe for being mostly the one to get it preserved for winter use.)  Joe put up many, many jars of tomato sauce and salsa and apple sauce and chutney. 

The kids have been sick.

The washer was broken for several weeks.

Winter coats to dig out.

So many withdrawals.

A few days ago, I was scared.  Scared I was slipping.  Slipping into the fog.

Over the weekend, it was better.  I had a good day Saturday.  And so I feel as though a deposit was made.  Yesterday I had a more positive perspective.  This is just a tide I have to ride.

But today I'm low again.  I just want to crawl back into bed and let the house fall down around me.

I hate that my family has to ride this roller coaster with me. 

Joe, kids, I am so sorry we are going through this.  I love you all.  And I pray for healing.

I rest in the assurance of Jesus' righteousness, cleansing me for all the ways I'm failing you right now.  There's no despair here, since I know in the long run, it's all good, good, good.

But I also know that I am daily letting you down in so many ways.

Just hang on.  Through the storms of life, hang on.  God will never leave us nor forsake us.  Rest in Him.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Christian Friendship: A Heavenly Thing

I have several good friends from my high school and young adult years.  And the ones with whom I find the most commonality, and the closest affection, all have one thing in common.  They share my Lutheran faith.  These friends are able to build me up in the Gospel of Christ.  And when warranted, to tear me down with God's Law. 

One of my best friends, Lisa, called me last night.  She does this periodically.  Lisa is a family counselor for Lutheran Social Services.  Or the organization that was formerly known as Lutheran Social Services.  Lutheran CounselingFamily Service, maybe?  Anyway, as a counselor, Lisa travels to various communities in Southern Wisconsin to be available for parishoners of the LCMS churches in her area of service.   On some evenings, while she is on the road (with her hands-free phone set-up of course) she calls to gab. 

I love the unexpected phone calls.  If I'm busy, I sometimes have to say, "Sorry, Lisa, can't talk tonight."  But other times I might only say, "Call back in 15 minutes after I have the littles in bed."  Or something like that. 

Last night was a call-back-in-10-minute night.  After all my littles were tucked snugly in their beds, the phone rang for a second time.  And Lisa and I got to visit for about 20 minutes.  Of course I won't go into details about our conversation.  I probably couldn't even if I wanted to.  I can't remember specifics. 

But what I do remember is the shared foundation that underlies all our conversation.  We believe the same things.  We share the bond of a common world view, but more importantly a common "heaven view."   We can build each other up with God's gift of grace and forgiveness, though Jesus.  And we can also when necessary tear each other down with reminders of God's Law. 

Does that sound harsh?

It's not meant to be.  To those who are unfamiliar with Law and Gospel preaching and teaching, it can sound harsh.  When we as Christians talk about things like sin and guilt, it's not a hateful or arrogant thing.  But instead, a necessary realization that without Jesus, we are unable.  Unrighteous.  Nothing.  Worse yet, we are enemies of God.

We are guilty from the moment of our conception.  We are tainted by the sinful natures that we inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve.  We commit sins of omission and commission; in other words, we fail to do those things we ought to do, and we instead often do those things we ought not to do.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot live up to the standard of perfection demanded by God's Holy Law.  And that separates us from Him and eternally.

But the flip side of that, the Good News of the Gospel of Christ, is that Jesus took care of that sin.  Jesus paid the ransom.  His perfect life is attributed to us.  So our Heavenly Father sees us as righteous.  And our debt of sin was paid by Jesus.  Through His sacrificial death on the cross, He suffered the eternal punishment that we deserve.  The breach is healed.  We are entitled to bask in the presence and perfect love of our Father. 

Our slate is wiped clean and we are assured of the promise of Eternal Life with God in Heaven.

If we don't see the purity and "harshness" of God's perfect demands, in His Law, we don't realize how we need Jesus.  We need to see and be reminded of our need for the Righteousness of Jesus, our Savior.   

Even after the assurance of eternal life because of the atonement with our Father through Jesus,we still must live in this sinful world.  We are broken.  We are surrounded by brokenness.  We have our families to raise and our spouses to love.  We have neighbors to serve and communities of which to be an active part. 

All these things come with various challenges due to both the imperfect state of the world in general, and more specifically of each person in the world. 

It's a great blessing to have someone with the same core beliefs off which to bounce ideas.  To talk about parenting.  To talk about Sin and Grace.  Law and Gospel.  To help us see the ways we are wrong.  And to remind us of where to go for wisdom and healing.

So getting back to my friend Lisa, and her wonderful periodic phone visits, I couldn't tell you anything specific about most of the calls.  We're simply friends sharing the trials and joys of our lives.  Sharing the inanities of every day living.  Building each other up and tearing each other down.  Pointing out sin, and comforting with the reminder of the Gospel of Redemption that makes us righteous.

Lisa called again this morning.  A morning phone call is a rare thing.  We're both busy being moms, homemakers, wives, etc.  It's hard to make time to indulge in the pleasure of a friendly phone call.  But Lisa called today to rejoice with me in the gift of our friendship.  Simply to express her pleasure and gratitude for what God has given us in our abiding friendship. 

I remember once, in the early days of Lisa's and my friendship, my mom and I had a little argument over the way I tended to make friends.  My mom, in her efforts to raise me with good habits and the ability to make wise choices, was worried that I only chose friends who agreed with me, or who were fun to be around.  Shallow friendship indeed, were that the case. 

I remember, in my immaturity, fumbling for a response.  Fumbling for the right way to explain.  I remember wanting Mom to understand that the reason I valued my friends so highly is because we can talk about the "real things" of life.  The "bigger picture." 

I won't go so far as to say the advice of these friends was always sound.  And I'm quite sure I didn't always offer sound advice in return.  We were young adults trying to figure things out.  Trying to find our footing in this unstable world. 

But Thanks be to God!  We had a Foundation.  A firm Rock upon which to stand.  We fumbled our way through life's big decisions and life's little problems together.  We knew what was right and wrong.  And we knew where to go to find the righteousness we so desperately lacked.

Throughout the years God has blessed me with many life-long friendships.  Through my early years in Lutheran high school and my one year of Lutheran college, and then continuing into my young adult years and the friendships I made at church during my time at a secular University, I have the continued friendship of a rich circle of wonderful people.  People with whom I share the corest convictions. 

Is that a word?  Corest convictions.  The deepest part of myself and who I am.  The Foundation. 

Thanks be to God for the gift of Christian Friendship. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Busy hands make warm ears


I've been making headwraps this fall.  They are alleged to be the hot item in headwear this season.  My friend Amy put me on to the idea and I've gone from there to come up with a design that I find satisfactory for my crochet abilities and usual concentration level, and also creates a nicely shaped end product.  Add flowers if you like, or leave them plain.  Switch yarn colors at the end of a round, or add an additional strand for a bulkier wrap.  This is kind of a "Casual" pattern, in that I'm not good at counting and remembering, so I tend to say, "Yep, about here."  If you want it more precise, you can easily count out rounds to create a more uniform pattern.

Inge and Clara
Start with a yarn you like in a color you like.  For a bulkier yarn, or if using two strands, use a larger hook size, maybe J, K, or L.  For finer yarns use G, H, or I. 

I like my pieces to be flowy, as in have movement, so I tend to use bigger hooks.  But you have to balance your need for warmth with your need for flow.  I live in Extreme Northern Minnesota, so warmth is pretty important here and sometimes, flow has to be sacrificed.  I make all different kinds and thicknesses.

Inge, Clara, and Sophie

The basic process is to chain a row, and then stitch around it.  Around and around.  But in order to shape the ends into a triangle, you do a little picot stitch at each turning.


To make the wrap:
  • Make a chain long enough to reach from ear to ear on the head for which you are making the wrap. I go to about the bottom of each ear, stretched across the forehead along the hairline. 
  • Single Crochet back along the chain, to the end.
  • Chain three and then single crochet into the first chain. This will create a little point or bulb on the end. This is also called a picot. 
  • Tuck the beginning end of your yarn out of the way, and using the back loop of the original chain, single crochet along the other side of your original chain. 
  • Repeat row three, to form a picot at this end.
  • This is the end of round one.
  • For consecutive rounds, keep repeating this process of single crochets and picots. I like the look of it when I use only the back loop of the single crochets, but I've done it using both loops, too. The wrap will have a little more texture or grain when you use only one loop.
To form the button hole:I do this when my ends almost meet up in the back. This may vary with how loosely or tightly you crochet, so you may have to play with the last two rounds a little bit to get it right.

When you reach your desired length, rather than doing a picot at the end of the row, chain five or six or more and then single crochet in the first chain to make a bigger loop. Then continue around until you are back at the loop. Then single crochet in each of the chains of the loop. You can fasten off your work at any point in the next round.

Some tips I learned in the process. These may or may not make sense now, depending upon your level of experience. But they may help clarify a few of the difficulties I found.
  1. It's in the nature of crochet to kind of twist as you work it, so you may feel like your ends are twisting or curling. Don't give up. They do kind of curl in opposite directions, if laid flat, but it's not at all noticeable when you're done.
  2. If you find your picots tend to lean to far to one or another edge, you can do a single crochet at the end of each row, too, to kind of work it into the correct position at the end. I had to do this on some rows with some of the yarns.
  3. Sometimes you need a little more length still, then go all the way around. Sometimes I've even done another row, or a row of slip stitches around the loop. You don't want your loop too thick, or hit hangs off the button too far. But if you need, a second row of single crochet is usually OK, or a row of slip stitch so that you can do another round to add length at the opposite end.
  4. If you want to get some extra width, you can try this method. It's a little more counting and concentrating, but makes a little different shape and texture:  For each end of each round, do 5 sc, 3 hdc, and then dc until you are within 10 stitches of the end. Then revert to 3 hdc, and 5 sc to the end. The next round, use 7 sc at each end; and if you need more rounds continue to increase the sc at each end by 2. That will keep the width in front of the ears rather than where you want the taper for the button.

Wraps for little ones.  The roses on these are from the method described here.




The two right wraps in this picture are done with this method.  The upper one is a looser stitch with more stretch and less warmth.  All three are for adult heads.
Although only the far right wrap is done with the method described here, I included this picture to show the examples of double strand wraps.  The left two wraps are very thick and warm. 

The left hand wrap uses the method described in Tip # 4 above.  I was using a remnant of yarn from a scarf and kept running short.  by increasing the stitch width, I was able to make better use of the yarn length to finish the wrap.




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Threads Across Time

Proud parents with our very lovely Louisa

In all the blogging I'm committed to regarding our vacation, I kind of forget sometimes to include news of the regular sort in my blogging.  And I even forget sometimes to tell about news of the more special kind. 

Blake D and Louisa
Louisa was honored by her classmates this month to be on the homecoming court.  She didn't expect to get the honor of homecoming queen, since that's voted on by the whole student body.  She is not in sports, and was gone for a year, so has not been as socially active and known by the younger kids as most of the other candidates.  But as one of my friends put it, "Wow, gone for a year, and her classmates still think highly enough of her to give her this honor!"  And it is an honor. 

Grandma, Louisa,and Grandpa

She wore the dress her Grandma Bergetta wore to junior prom in ( I think) 1962.  But more fun yet, Louisa's Grandma had gotten it second hand from her Aunt Bobby.  And Bobby's Mom, Bergetta's Grandma Roberts, had made the dress for Bobby.  So if you kept all that straight, the dress was made in the mid to late 1950s by Louisa's Great, Great, Grandma Roberts (Great Grandma Kindler's mother.)


Louisa chose to spruce it up with sequined pink strappy sandals and a sequin belt.  She looked marvelous, if you ask me.  And I'm proud of her decision to a cool retro dress with sentimental value rather than having to wear the latest new style.

Addendum from Grandma, "I forgot to tell Louisa that when I wore this dress for my junior prom, May 3, 1963, I met her grandpa for the first time. I'm so glad she asked to wear it. She is lovely in it. B"

The Pastor Plays and We're Ready to see Matt

Surf's up!

Days 9 and 10, Tuesday, August 27 and Wednesday August 28
We arrived in Escondito, at our friends' the Lawsons', last night at about supper time.  Leave it to us.  “Hi, nice to see you.  Nice to meet you.  What've you got for us to eat.  Oh, and did I mention we need a special diet?”   But Rob and Kristen were prepared, and so good-hearted.   And Kristen was ready for us.  She served a lovely and wonderfully tasty supper for us.

It's kind of a pastor thing.   We know that wherever we are and wherever we go, the pastor in that area will be there for us.  Just as we'd be for them.   It's very good for the men to have a cohort to kick back with and shoot the breeze, and talk shop, etc.  And it's fun for us women to get to know another pastor's wife, and to know that we've got friends all around the country.

We did laundry.  Oh, Kristen, I hope you know how appreciated that is.  We had so much, … smoky from campfires and damp from the rain, ... stinky from sitting in a hot vehicle for several days.  Ugh, this small gesture was say beyond the call of duty.

We made posters for Matt's graduation, to hang in the van windows.  Things like, “Abrahamson, Plt 1070,” “Delta Company,” “Go Matt!” and etc.

The Lawson kids had to go to school today for a short time. But their folks took them out of school early so that they could all take us to the beach at Oceanside.

A little lunch

Our gracious hosts, Rob and Kristen

Rob grilled hotdogs and Kristen had packed chips and cheese sticks, and frozen water bottles.  She also provided the beach towels, so we wouldn't have to pack wet ones up again when we left.   I had a big drink cooler full of water, and a bunch of folding chairs.  The Lawsons had boogie boards and a shade tent thing called an Easy-Up.

Slathering up.

The weather was nicely warm and the waves were just right.   I was so happy that Joe got out there and had fun in the surf.  He body surfed with the kids and bounced around.   The kids did both body surfing and boogie boards.  Those who did the boogies boards ended up with many scrapes and scratches, from being buffeted and dragged across the bottom by their boards.

The Family

I mostly stayed near the edge with Inge, since she was a little bit afraid of the constantly moving water and sand.   She and I stayed in the shallow water, at about knee deep for me.  I was holding her. Some of the waves came up to about my waste.   But because Inge was so nervous, I tried to stay where most of them only splashed her a little as they wrapped around my legs.

"It's coming!"  Emma, Stella, and Donna

Playing in the sand
After awhile Inge was content by herself, as long as she stayed in the very shallow water.  So I foolishly let Joe coax me out to the deep.  I didn't really know what to expect, since I hadn't played in ocean waves since I was on a high school choir tour throughout the south.   One of the stops on that trip had been a day at Padre Island, on the Gulf Coast of Texas. 

Joe went out to where the bigger swells were cresting.  I went out to about waist deep, where the waves would come in over my shoulders, but then rush on past.   I was not quite ready, in my mind at least, when the first crest came.  And it was a biggy!   I turned to press my back into it, thinking that perhaps I could withstand the onslaught and simply remain standing until the swell passed.

But no.

I was standing in waist deep water one minute.  The next I was plunged into the maelstrom, hitting the bottom, sea water forced into my eyes, nose and mouth.  I floundered around, kind of going with the flow, until I felt air above me and sand beneath.   I clumsily found my legs and slowly emerged from the torrent.  Wet, bedraggled, and feeling a bit sotted.

And then I was done.   That was enough beach playing for me until next time.  I returned to the easy-up with Kristen.   Joe needed to play in the surf.  It was wonderful for him to cut loose and simply play.   I got some girl time visiting with Kristen in the shade, as our kids and the dads all played.  It was just what I needed, too.

Kristen and I having some Mom time

Have sand, will bury

Sophie and John flee the maelstrom

The kids were surprised their dad spent so much time in the water. They asked him about it later,
“How did it feel, Dad, to play in the ocean?”

“It was … like a great big release.”  And with that simple statement, I knew that all the work and planning and stress of the trip was oh-so-worth it.  Anyone who knows my husband well will know that “a great big release” was just exactly, perfectly what he needed.





Rachel and Louisa's henna tats

After we were done at the beach, we headed south to San Diego and the Wyndam Gardens Motel.   It's a lovely building with graceful wrought iron railings on long porches across the upper levels.  The foliage is mostly a variety of palms.  Some are kind of short and squat.   Short only compared to the towering ones above.  They have very big leaves that spread upward and outward toward the porch railings.   The littles were very intrigued with these big stiff leaves.   They found it very interesting and cool to be able to stick their arms through the railings and touch these amazingly big leaves.

When we got to the motel, Joe's Mom and Dad were awaiting our arrival.  They had flown in yesterday, and so spent the day today touring the USS Midway.   They took the city bus a short distance, and then met the trolley that took them through Old Town and down to the USS Midway.  It was fun to hear about their day.  The smaller kids enjoyed seeing Grandma and Grandpa in such an unexpected place.  "How did you get here?"

We indulged in a rare meal out that evening, in a real, sit-down restaurant.  We headed first for a barbeque place adjacent to the hotel, that was alleged to be able to serve gluten free food.   But it was packed to overflowing.  The line was spilling out the door and onto the sidewalks.   Since we were a group of thirteen, and several of us were small, hungry children, we figured we better not attempt the wait.

We continued on to Red Lobster.  We had eaten in a Red Lobster once in Chicago.  That would have been about the time Matt was a baby, so, nineteen years ago.  They were able to accommodate Joe and his dad's special dietary needs, and we all had a great time.

After we walked back to the hotel, we got the kids ready for bed and tucked in as soon as possible. They were a little revved up, so it was kind of hard to settle everyone down, but we have an early start tomorrow to all the excitement at the base.  Joe's parents have a room with two double beds, so Stella and John are staying over at Grandma and Grandpa's room. 

I can't believe we're finally going to see Matt!  It seems like it's been forever.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How a Lazy Evening Became Productive

As 5:00 came and went, the school kids had gotten home, had a quick snack, and then were off to Wed school at 5:00.  I had diced potatoes in the oven.  Garden fresh potatoes from Dawn N., with ricotta cheese and home rendered lard stirred in, topped with parsley, sage, and thyme from my beds.

I had not gotten out to mow.  In fact, I had decided not to mow today, since I've had a little nagging sore throat all day.  I had a good school and chore day around the house, so I was using that sore throat as an excuse to watch a movie or something during Wed. School.  I was tired.

Inge, Donna, and Stella asked for a movie so I told them they could watch on the kitchen computer.  But after several failed attempts, they reported that the kitchen disc drive drive didn't work. 

"Sigh," said I.  Then to myself I added, "I suppose I could get off my chair and let them use mine."

I didn't think my disc drive worked either, since it's had trouble with certain formats lately, mostly written material and audio files.  But I remembered Joe saying that different formats read differently, so don't assume something won't work.  We popped Willy Wonka into my machine and voilà.  It worked. 

And so I got up and got busy.  I scrubbed three acorn squash and put them on a lower shelf in the oven.  I may as well get as much use as possible out of the heat that's there anyway, right?  I got the meat for supper ready, but it was too early to put it in the oven, too. 

So I headed outside at about ten minutes to 6:00.  I got the mower out of the detached garage and up to the house to fill it.  I mowed the first few strips and had to empty the bag already.  "Uffda, it's going to be a long job."  That grass was way, way, way too long.

I'm not going to say when we mowed last.  But suffice it to say that if I had a tail, it would be far between my legs.

I mowed a few more rows and emptied my bag a few more times.  Then I ran inside quickly to slide the meat into the oven along with the other things.  I was feeling very high by that time.  Invigorated and energized.  Up. 

Besides the accomplishment of actually getting started on the mowing, I had much food in the oven.  Squash for a meal, plus enough extra for about three coffee cakes or custards.  I had potatoes roasting, enough for at least two big meals.  And tonight's meat was was easy to pop in, being left over roasted turkey from the end of last week. 

After sliding the meat into the oven, I was right back out to the mower.  Up and down, around and over.  Up and down, around and over.  Empty the bag.  Start again.  By 7:00, the kids were done with Wed school, but I had just a corner of one section left to do.  It was getting dark, but I was determined.  On a roll.  Tenaciously trying to finish.  Perhaps I ought to have waited.  I ended up not finishing anyway, since I ran out of gas with about five minutes worth of mowing left.  But worse yet, I hit a rock under one of our spruce trees and shot it at the garage door.  I couldn't believe it when I looked — a 2" round dent, and triangle of torn metal about an inch long in the middle.

We turned it into a good lesson, though.  I had all the kids run out and look.  "This is why we don't leave rocks in the grass.  And this is also why we don't play near the mower.  Imagine if that was a child's head rather than the garage door."


I had said to a friend this morning, "I really do love push mowing. I love the exercise and the, ... oh, ... exhilaration of the accomplishment.  But I also really love afterwards the relaxation of a summer evening, sipping a cool drink, looking at the nicely groomed green grass and other summer glories, and listening to all the summer sounds. Somehow, the pleasure of it eludes me at this time of year..."

I didn't go out and sit to enjoy the newly mowed grass after mowing this evening.  But I did enjoy the freshly mowed sections of grass much more than I imagined I would.  Even in the fall drabness, those areas that were freshly cut looked very good.  I can't wait to get out tomorrow and do some more. 

What Happens in Vegas ...

Again, this is a post from memory, as I wrote nothing at the time.  And I am not sure what happened to our pictures from this day.  I thought we had taken a bunch, but maybe on one of the kids' cameras.  I only found a few and the were not that interesting.  Oh, except this one advertising an upcoming Air Supply show.  I remember listening to the annual countdown on New Years Eve my Freshman year in high school listening to see how many of their songs made the list.  I had some sort of competition with the neighbor boy between my band and his. 

Day 8, Monday, August 26
Vegas, Baby!  A place that wasn't on the list of sights to see on this trip.  I have nothing tangible against Las Vegas.  But I don't have money to risk losing.  I am far more impressed with the Beauty of God's earth than with glitz and flash of hedonistic America.  And, ... well, they don't call it Sin City for nothing.

It just wasn't high on my list of American Southwest family tourist destinations.

But it was raining on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  It was raining on the south rim.  It was raining in Zion National Park.  It was raining along this entire section of our route.  And not just a little rain.  One of those steady, three day soakers that sends the water careening down the dry gulches of the American southwest in raging torrents.  As we were coming into Las Vegas there were places the muddy water had washed onto the highway.  The following morning's newspaper had pictures of flash flooding in nearby many areas.

So we ended up in Vegas.  Where we knew no one, and had done no research on what to see or do.  We considered a day trip to Hoover Dam.  But we crossed that off the list after some unsuccessful checking on parks in the vicinity.  We had purchased food for camping that needed to be used.  Some of it needed to be cooked.  Any outing we planned had to include a shelter and a grill for our noon meal.  Most of the park information for that area was somewhat vague as to the availability of grills or fire pits.  We did have our campstove if we needed to use it, but cooking on two small burners is kind of a slow process for the volume of food we needed to cook.

I did find out about a kind of cool sounding place just on the Vegas side of the Hoover Dam area.  On our next trip down to that part of the world, if it ever happens, we'll have to put Hemenway Valley Park, along with Hoover Dam, on our list for the next trip.  "One of this park's main attractions is the Bighorn sheep that come down from the mountains to water and graze." (from the Boulder City website).

Thankfully I was reminded by one of my online friends that she and her family live in Las Vegas.  Oh, yes, online friendships... My daughters tease me because they see the double standard.  We exhort our kids to only have online correspondence with those they know personally.  But on the other hand, we are all part of various on-line communities.  And we come to know and love the people we meet there.  And to depend upon them for support and advice.

I'm part of a Confessional Lutheran women's facebook group.   Many of these women are pastors' wives.  Many homeschool.  Many have large families.  All these women are committed to raising their families to know and understand what it means to be a Lutheran.  To train up our children to know firstly that they are sinful and live in a sin-filled world.  And secondly, but more importantly, that Jesus has died to save us from the guilt of our sin, so that we can one day have eternal life in Heaven with Him.  And that this righteousness, that is ours through Christ, is a free gift.  A totally free gift.  The Lutheran view of Salvation through Grace alone, Faith alone, and Scripture alone, and that also depends totally on God and His grace to give us the gift of faith through His Word and Sacraments, is unique among Christians.  We seek guidance and help in all areas of our parenting through our facebook friendships. 

And so we becomes close friends although we don't really know each other personally.  And to some we become closer to than others.  We have private message or e-mail conversations, or even write letters, call, or visit when  opportunities arise.

Erica S. is one of these friends who I've gotten to know a little better through private conversations.  Besides having in common the Lutheran and mothering and pastor wife parts of our lives, I've often thought that our families would get along especially well.  Various topics of interest that have come up seemed common to us.

And yes, Erica lives in Las Vegas.  But I had forgotten that.  After I posted from the hotel in Vegas about our plans changing, and about being in Las Vegas with no particular plans, Erica sent me a message suggesting that if we have time, we should try to meet in person.  I explained our dilemma of needing an outing that would include cooking our camping food.  And also that my teenaged girls wanted to experience a little bit of Vegas, and to shop at a Ross.

The day turned out splendid from our point of view.  We met the S.es at a park in their neighborhood.  A park with both a shelter and a grill.  Their two little ones played with our little ones on the well-appointed playground.  They got sopping wet in the drizzle, but it didn't seem to bother any of them.  Erica and her husband, Vincent, visited with Joe and I.  Joe cooked burgers, while Erica and I got the other foods set out.  The teen girls worked on photos for the "Planking in Vegas" project they plan to produce.

We had a lovely visit.  After lunch, the S.es invited us over to their home.  Erica had noticed me putting our dirty dishes into a plastic bag to wash later at the hotel, so she kindly offered the use of their kitchen sink.  And she threw the kids' wet clothes in her dryer.  So very thoughtful and kind.

The kids played some more.  The men played.  They watched break-dancing videos and engaged in feats of valor with wooden practice swords, escrima sticks, to be precise.  They talked theology and science fiction/fantasy, among other things. 

After the clothes were dry, we moms and the older five girls took off to see the city.  We shopped at Ross and TJ Max, and found a few things.  We drove the strip and saw the sights.  Said sights would include a moving billboard of three scantily clad or unclad women advertising a certain phone business.  Yep.  Stuck in downtown traffic behind the truck that was the billboard.  Stop, start.  Stop, start.  All the way through downtown.  Mostly naked ladies staring us in the face.  Two pastors' wives and a carload of teenaged girls. 

We went to the Fashion Show Mall on the strip.  We zipped off the strip to catch a quick supper at a fast food Mexican joint. 

Then back to the strip to meet the rest of the gang.  Vincent and the S. children decided to call it a night and so they didn't come downtown.  They were all tuckered out after a day with the Abrahamsons.  Imagine that!  But Vincent gave Joe directions to meet us at the Fountains of the Bellagio.  Louisa had seen the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, in Barcelona, Spain, so was interested in this famous fountain, too. 

As things happen, especially where the Abrahamsons are concerned, things got a little confused.  Erica and the girls and I thought we were meeting in the lobby of the Bellagio.  Joe with the littles thought we were meeting at the fountain, along the road near the parking lot.

We women folk walked through the indoor gardens adjacent to the lobby, and when Joe still wasn't there, we went down the hallway to the chocolate fountain. 

Joe and the kids watched the fountain go.  Every fifteen minutes.  For about 40 minutes.  They saw three of the repetitions.  Inge had to go to the bathroom and so fussed nearly the whole time.  And really, what's a dad to do?  He is trying to keep order on a 4, 6, 7, and 9 year old in a jostling crowd.  The nearest restroom is who knows where, but no doubt at least a several minute walk through the jostling crowd.  And he had no idea when we were finally going to arrive or what the hold up was.

We women finally ran out of things to look at inside the Bellagio and so Erica gave Vincent a call to see how long ago Joe had left and where he expected Joe might be.  Ah-ha!  Down by the road.  So we hurried down the walkway along side the fountain.  Scanning the rows of people gathered to see the fountain.  Stopping so we didn't photo-bomb any of the many shots of people posing along the walkway.  Somehow managing to get separated into three groups on the way down to the road. 

I found Joe, and he kind of threw Inge at me.  "She has to go to the bathroom!  Immediately!"  I grabbed Inge and started the way back up the sidewalk to the lobby.  Along the way I found Erica and the girls with her, and pointed out Joe to them.  I found the bigger girls, and told them where to head.  And then I, continued on to the bathroom, hoping that by the time we were done, everyone else will have found each other. 

All told, we women got to see one of the musical selections that the fountain presented.  Joe and the kids saw three.  But I'm not sure Joe really enjoyed it, since he had a crying little one, and no clue how to help her, and whether she might at any minute wet her pants and her dad.

And where was our cell phone in all this?  Safely in the van, of course.  Where we could use it in case of a roadside emergency...

Oyweh!

Eventually we all found each other, used the bathroom, and saw both the water and the chocolate fountains.  We said our goodbyes to our new friend, Erica.  And then we assembled in the van to head to the hotel.  Tired and ready to sleep.