Monday, December 29, 2008

It's That Time of Year When...

...sweet remorse sets in because of all the overindulgences of the great November/December sugarfest. I sat here struggling with the woes of my computer (which sounds like more exercise than it is)consoling myself with an occasional teaspoon full of vanilla coconut spoon fudge, and finally decided it was time to face the inevitable. So I waddled up to the little gym on the square and slogged away for an hour--one round with the exercising machine dragons and nine chapters on the treadmill. For me, that's the only way to do it. Set the machine and start reading a good book. I don't know how long I walked past the end of the program and into the cool down cycle...Hey, it was an interesting book, although a little too eerie for my taste. What I really needed was a cheery, English countryside mystery a la Chesterton or Sayers or Christie. Dekker is a great author, but I prefer books that don't keep me looking over my shoulder. If things are happening to people far removed in social station or locale it doesn't seem as threatening, but this author uses names of towns I've been to, and his people are just ordinary citizens of the earth, people who eat too much candy at Christmas and go exercise to pay the price.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Computer is a Barren Wasteland

It all started when I asked for an external hard drive for Christmas. (Yes, I'm a little weird that way). Well, the computer was just too full to function well, and, even though it is getting old, by computer standards--one year equals twenty, I thought if I just gave it some more room to grow, it would serve me faithfully for a few more years.

So I hooked up the mass storage device. In doing so, I had to plug the printer into the front usb port, because there are only two in back (That should tell you). I had the good sense to transfer all the documents over to the new drive. Then I had another idea--transfer all the program files and reboot the computer. Then I could pull all the program files back and Voila---more room without all the junk. Well.

I rebooted.

I didn't lose the documents.
I lost everything else.
All my windows updates.
My printer.
My e-mail letters and addresses.
Every software program.

Reinstalling is a major pain. I've been setting at the computer for two days and still don't have much to show for it. My printer doesn't work yet. THERE ARE TWO MILLION LINKS TO DOWNLOAD UPDATES AND FREE DRIVERS AND THEY ALL LEAD TO SOFTWARE THAT DOES NOTHING BUT SELL ITS DIAGNOSTIC SELF.

Why can't I leave well enough alone?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

This Christmas carol is probably the oldest one we have on record. We know that it at least dates back to the 5th century and is taken from the Liturgy of St. James. I don't know who wrote it, or what it sounded like in the original Greek, but it certainly expresses the awe I feel at Christmas.

King of Heaven.
Came to Earth
To restore our hearts to Heaven.


Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

4. At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Graham Cracker Cream Coconut Confections

Are you one of those kinds of people who buy the jello cheesecake instant mixes and add your own cherry pie topping but use the already made graham cracker crusts that have the neat little turn over and crimp tops and then wonder what to do with the sacks of pulverized graham crackers that come with the box of cheese cake mix? If you are not, then stop reading this. Now. (because that means you probably make your own "from scratch" cheese cakes which take skill, patience, and hours of work and taste heavenly). So go read the news or something; you can read this blog another day when you can relate better.

All right.

I should just have my type of cook reading this blog now. Let's see. Where were we?
Ah yes. The left over little bags of crumbs (which, by the way are terribly hard to shape into a perfectly shaped pie crust the way the back of the box says...hence the already made crusts). I cannot bear to throw those sacks away, so usually they languish in the top drawer of my pantry hoping for an inspiration...sometimes I remember to throw them out after a few months. Today, I ventured upon a new plan: make something with them while they are fresh!

So I made them into cookies. I took two sacks of crumbs, added a half stick of soft butter, a cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of cream. Then I finished off the vanilla and sprinkled them with cinnamon. To about half the batch, I added the rest of the coconut (from last night's venture into fudgery).
This should give me two kinds of cookies. They are in the oven right now...baking at 375 for I'm not sure how many minutes. I'll keep checking them and let you know how they turn out. Should be interesting.

Ok. This is what I found out so far. Twelve minutes is too long. Try ten. They are golden brown with a great tan on top of that. The good news is...they taste least the coconut ones do. The others are flat and very mushy looking. I haven't had the heart to try them yet. I'm letting them cool and seeing if they harden.

I turned down the oven to 300 and threw in the rest of the dough--coconut included--but this time I didn't form them into balls first--why, when they all run together like that. I plan to cut this one into strips and call it "bars". I set the timer for ten minutes and I'll let you know sometime later how they turn out. Ah, cooking is such an adventure for the fearless.


The graham cracker crumb coconut bars were great--It took 20 minutes at 300 degrees. The hopeless looking little piles of cookie goo that didn't have coconut in them look the worst...but taste so good I had to hide them from myself. (That wouldn't work if my memory weren't failing). They would be like ambrosia if you ate them while drinking a glass of cold milk.

Next time I'll do the same thing, but cut back on the butter. They seemed too greasy. I'm thinking only 1/4 stick or maybe none at all. The heavy whipping cream probably has enough oil in it. That's my guess.

Three Kinds of Fudge

Well I went on a fudge cooking marathon last night to fill some little tubs and distribute them among the church people who are still home and haven't run off to visit grandchildren. If any of you know me, you realized long ago that I'm not a very good cook...but I try with intrepidity:
So the conclusion of the matter is this: I have three kinds of fudge in the tubs: thin, soft, chocolate pecan slabs, little balls of vanilla, coconut "spoon" fudge (It didn't set up...but it's still the best tasting of the lot); and tall, stiff--very stiff cut it with a jack hammer if you dare--chocolate, peanut butter, pecan, whole bunch of marshmallows, marble fudge. There!
Who says I can't cook.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Song From Sara Lee

No, her name is not really Sara Lee, but that's what the students all call her instead of trying to pronounce her real name. Last night at the school Christmas program she sang a solo for the first time. In fact, this is the first time she has ever been in choir and the first time she has been away from home...for any length of time.

Sara arrived a little late for school this fall, visas and such taking forever, but she has settled into dorm life on weeknights. On weekends she shares her life with another family and with us. This month it's our turn for Sara.

"We're going to Texas for Christmas Day," I told her last night.
"Oh, Cool!" she replied in perfect Oklahoma teen slang."

Anyway, she wanted her family--back in tropical Indonesia--to hear her sing, and I was anxious for them to see how lovely her voice sounded in the stillness of the gym, so I took my trusty little video camera to record the event.

I know, the picture is dark; you can't see her face....etc. etc. but I was having to lean over into the crowd between sending the shepherds and prompting the wise men to begin their wending way to follow a star.

Here are the Lyrics to the song: "Breath of Heaven", sometimes called Mary's Song, by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant. I only recorded the first verse and chorus, because I was afraid to make the video too long for e-mail.

I have traveled
Many moonless night
Cold and Weary
With a babe inside
And I wonder
What I've done
Holy Father,
You have come and
Chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting
in a silent prayer
I am frightened
by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven

Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holiness
For you are holy,
Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder
As you watch my face
If a wiser one, should have had my place
But I offer-all I am
For the mercy-of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me
Help me

Friday, December 19, 2008

Panama Streets for a Picture Meme

Babystepper tagged me. I have to post the sixth picture from the sixth picture folder in my Main Picture folder, only mine aren't quite that simple.

So, after a few dead ends on the picture folders--cul de sacs where there were not six folders, and picture folders called stuff and such, I finally located a picture folder that had six folders in it. I grabbed the sixth picture from that folder and voila.

This is a picture taken in Panama a few years ago on Elijah's mission trip. The older man is a Kuna native who operates a taxi service (the pickup behind him).
The young kid acting weird--um--cool-- is an American teenager .

So whom do I tag. I know. I'll tag you lurkers. This is a great chance for you to break into some really serious blogging with an assignment anyone can do. Go to your picture folder (It's called "my pictures" on most people's computers) and pick the sixth folder. Open it. Post the sixth picture from that folder and explain why in the world that picture is on your computer. Have fun.

P.S. a lurker is someone who reads blogs but never comments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Silliness in Song while Studying for Semester Tests Tomorrow

Blame the Math Teacher.
He started it all by jotting down a math carol on the board for his dedicated Algebra I students. It went like this:

Math is fun. We like to do it.
It brings joy when we get through it.
All our homework, it is fun.
We are sad when it is done.

So I had to write one on the other side of the board before my Christian Studies IV students got into the room.

(To the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.")

It's time for some philosophy; it's time for ethics class
We're filling out our study sheets; and oh, we hope we pass
An anarchist, a hedonist, and an iconoclast,
Oh where is our comfort and joy; comfort and joy;
Oh where is our comfort and joy.

Then the sophomores came in, and well, you know how it goes.
Everybody wants their carol.

(To the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland")

Sophomores sing, loud and giggly,
and their notes, they are squiggly,
They can't study today
So tomorrow they'll pray
Walking in Semester Testing Land

We have a verse. Who's going to say it?
There'll be a prayer. Who's going to pray it?
I think that it's time
to stop all this rhyme.
Walking in a Semester Wonderland.

Then the seventh and eighth grade boys requested Jingle Bells.

Junior high boys' Bible class
Keeps me on my toes
Trying to find a question that
not anybody knows--oh!
Junior high boys' Bible class
What a noisy bunch.
Always have their hands held high
until it's time for lunch.

And the Juniors...who were dreadfully sleepy today; I hope they are not all coming down with mononucleosis or African trypanosomiasis, although the chances of that are slim in this icy weather.

Have yourselves a merry little nap time
Rest there on your desks
Just pretend I'm not up here reviewing tests.
And have yourselves a nap time of the very best.

(Well, we did accomplish something. We voted to bring a Dr. Pepper the day of the test...just so they can stay awake through that. ) Yawn. I think maybe I'll bring one too.

And tiny little girls class at the end of the day. They usually make good grades on everything, and they are intense when it comes to study I had to wait until I got home to write one for them. Maybe they will log on and read it.

Once again--(To the tune of Jingle Bells)

We'll study til we drop....and even then won't stop
We'll learn these names and then...we'll learn them all again.
And when we see the test
We'll do our very best
As long as you don't deviate and ask about the rest.

Oh study sheets, study sheets,
All you need to know.
Never mind the textbooks
Let's throw them in the snow-oh!
If she wickedly throws in a lot of other stuff
We'll gleefully point this out to her
And so we'll call her bluff!

(Oops. Junior high students: if you are reading this, remember that section on the study guide that says simply: Know everything about Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. That's formidable. Oh, and bring your timelines to class. I'll let you use them for part of the test.)

Your Loving Teacher,
The Silly Rhymer Strikes Again


Well. The games were canceled due to the icy roads. Not that I really minded. We do have semester tests beginning tomorrow and the last thing the students and teachers needed was to start the whole thing off with a four hour basketball gamefest and a five hour concession stand marathon. There is a little problem, however, with what to do with the 90 hamburger buns I bought last evening in anticipation of this large-scale-money-making fund raiser for my juniors who will be seniors next year and throw away all this hard earned cash on a self-indulgent senior trip they will never forget.

Maybe we can sell them to the cafeteria--along with the chips, lettuce, and tomatoes. (the burgers, that is, not the juniors)
Everything else we'll sell to the seniors. After all, it is their turn to do concessions after the break. I'm going to celebrate by staying away from games and grading papers...or blogging...or paying bills...or washing clothes...or just padding around the house in my jammies and crocs. I'm sure it will be terribly hard on me, but I'll manage somehow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Knew Instantly That There Would Be Another Stuffed Reindeer in the Room...

...because it happens every year about this time.

No, we don't collect penguins, or snowflakes or even angels or shepherds or sheep, but at some point in our history as a family (maybe it was the year Dairy Queen gave beany bag reindeer with kids meals) we started collecting four-footed, prancing, pawing, caribou. Of course, personalities being the way they are, my husband, Turtle, contracted an obsession for them. So, every year the red, plastic vat in the attic comes bumping and thumping its way down dusty stairs and my living room is infested with silly, sleigh-pullers. . . and every year, another one pokes its silly little snout out from between the others. It's a tradition I tolerate, at best. The latest one is particularly goofy looking. (He's the last one in the video)

Oh well, at least I don't have a fat, jolly, white-bearded man in a red suit booming loudly in the darkness behind them. Oh wait...I do. Now maybe that's why he...hmmm.

Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was "I Knew Instantly"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Speaking of Traditions

I've been thinking about Christmas traditions...because,'s that time of the year again. I suppose our most lasting family tradition was one started by my father and mother when I was about ten years old. Every Christmas Eve we went caroling in the nursing homes and the hospitals--just our family, and, as we all got older, some of the sons-in-law and grandchildren.

Dad played the accordion and walked behind us, and we sang as we walked up and down the halls. Occasionally, a family member would invite us into the room to sing for a loved one, and there were always people at the nursing homes who would sing along with the familiar carols. It was, and still is, good for us to think about others, and it was a fine thing to do together; it didn't take very long, but brought a bright few moments into the lives of those too ill or too forgotten to go home for Christmas Day.

Thanks, Dad and Mom, for making this a family tradition.
It has lasted over forty years.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Schnetka--A Traditional Breakfast Food

Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was Tradition so...

(I actually found this entry from earlier, and I'm posting it again. There's a recipe at the end for all of you adventurous souls with a sweet tooth.)

The school where I teach is located about fifteen miles away, in a tiny community. Every morning, five students and I get to drive there together, and talk about our day while driving into the sunrise. This morning we discovered that three of my commuters had NEVER tasted schnetka. Amazing. How could someone live in this community and not have tasted this little breakfast dainty? After that, nothing would suffice but that I be talked into stopping and buying some. When I pulled up to the door of the small cafe on main street--the only main street--the only cafe-- the first thing I noticed was a sign which said: "Sorry, we are closed." While I searched all the neatly printed little homemade signs for one which told me when they were open, the door opened and two of the local farmers asked what I needed. When I asked for a list of hours, one of them said,

"Come on in."
"Oh, are you open?"
"Well, we are only semi-open. If you want coffee and schnetka, we are open enough for that."

"Actually, I wanted six schnetka for my students."
"Well come on in and help yourself. They are over there on the bar."

I helped myself, finding a carry-out box, loading the pastry treats into it, and depositing my cash into a bucket on the table. The two men told me that they come drink coffee here every morning. Other residents do too. This keeps the cafe semi-open. Well, that's good to know. I think I'll make Thursdays "Schnetka days".

Small towns...I love them. And I love schnetka too. Who wouldn't?

Schnetka Recipe--This is a cinnamon, sugary, creamy, pie crusted, delicious pastry. It's best served warm along with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Crisco
1cup water (as needed to make dough)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar

1cup sugar
1 cup cream
1tsp vanilla

Mix together flour, 1 cup sugar, 1tsp salt, Crisco, and water and roll out on flat surface to make a 20 by 22 inch rectangle.
Spread with butter, sprinkle with 1 cup of sugar mixed with 2 T cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of brown sugar over the top.
Cut into 4 by 4 and 1/2 inch squares and roll each square.
Spray an 11 by 15 inch pan heavily with baking spray or grease it well.
Place schnetka on pan leaving small space between them. ( A jelly roll pan works great)
Mix together 1 cup of cream, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Pour this mixture over the top of schnetka.
Sprinkle with more sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on type of pan)
Remove the schnetka from the pan immediately, turning them out on a plate or tray. Here's roughly what they look like. Sorry you can't taste them.

An older spelling is schnitke, or schnetke.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Sparrow of His Eye

Yesterday I told you about the birth of little Rachel and I was remembering my niece, who had been born prematurely also. That niece is an artist now and has just finished this picture of a sparrow. It was on her blog. Strangely enough, the blog I sent you to see yesterday--written by the little baby's aunt--is called "Sparrow Flies", and quotes the verse about "His eye being on the sparrow." Isn't life ironic?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Little Girl

Two of my former students got married--hey it happens quite often here--and we were all excited to find out this fall that they were expecting their first child around the middle of February. Well, to make a long story shorter...the little girl came early and weighs 2lbs 1.5 oz. Her new auntie is a senior this year in my class, and she is bringing pictures every day. It so much reminds me of when I was a new auntie and my own niece was a 2lb baby. The pictures are amazing. She has posted a couple of them here, so I stole one for you to see.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Go Read this Poem

A few months ago, Elijah wrote a poem from the viewpoint of the Prodigal. I've been nagging him to put it on his "very seldom written in" blog. (He posts as Blackstubble--an alias, just like Elijah is an alias). Well, anyway, he finally put it up today. Here's the post. You might as well accept the fact that moms brag on stuff their kids do. It comes in our mom contract.


Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was "Winter"

The coldest winters I ever spent were in Gunnison, Colorado.
True...true... with the sun shining brightly, and hardly any wind, it didn't always look cold. But it was.

I remember crossing the Gunnison River on the way to school. Some days it was generating steam like a nuclear power plant...chunks of ice floating throughout. The steering wheel under my gloved hands was so cold it made my bones hurt, and the seat beneath me was firm, like a bench of stone. Even though the engine had been plugged in all night, the car was slow to shift gears--fluids were like refrigerated honey, I guess.

My daughter had learned the hard way not to wash her hair in the morning. One morning it froze on the way out to the school bus. Not realizing that, she reached up and grabbed it, only to feel a chunk of hair break off into her hand.

We wore long underwear beneath our clothes...all winter long, even under the long dresses that we wore to church, where we sat on heated pews. Nobody stayed home because of the weather. I remember one Sunday when the temperature was thirty six degrees below zero. We were all there. Just another Gunnison cold day.

With winter came white streets. They stayed white until April, and those who cleared the snow had to pile it high in a snow yard, because it would never melt, not until May or June even. There was lots of sledding and ice skating and snowboarding in the cold, cold sunshine, but if you held your coffee cup in your hand too long, you would see it ice over on top.

In the basement, frost began creeping up all the outside walls, making us realize why water lines needed to be buried deeper than ten feet.

Summer was slow to arrive and always seemed like an uncomfortable visitor, cringing under occasional snow flurries that were dashed in her face. Dahlias bloomed with a crisp intensity, bold and beautiful, throwing all the energy they possessed into the few short weeks they were did all the other flowers. There was no spring...just less wintery winter. . .fall was golden aspen leaves sprinkled liberally with snow dust...short and powerless to stop the coming cold white world of winter.

So how did we survive four years there? Well, inside was reasonably warm...standing around the fire...and the people were winter in those friendships. It makes all the difference.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Escape Into No Man's Land.

The angel leads the way
dividing the darkness
with his light sword

Then a weary man walking, and
a donkey bearing a wife worrying,
holding gently her mortal baby boy

The very one who once lit stars
and commanded angels to sing.

Now he nods quietly in the darkness
as the angel leads them on
away from a sobbing Bethlehem

The picture is from Kevin Ryan's website.

An Angel, a Joseph, and a Mary

That's all who came to children's church today. Everybody was gone for Thanksgiving with one parent or another...or one grandparent or another.

Advent began with Wonderful Counselor, and one of the children dressed as a prophet to light the candle while the scripture was being read, so I talked the other two into dressing up in their Christmas program outfits so I could take their picture.

I love this time of the year--re-enactments and rememberings. We made clothespin dolls and dressed them with scraps of vividly colored felt--oddly enough--a Joseph, a Mary, and an angel, complete with a star-twined halo.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Early in the Morning

They are sleeping.
All over the house.
Beds are full...and so are all the couches.
I'm sitting quietly in the the den...typing as softly as I can.
Schnetka are in the oven...on warm...bubbling quietly.
I went to bed before ten...after calling my parents to make sure they made it safely home.
It's a thing with me.
I don't know how late they all stayed up, but I remember hearing the saxophone playing before I turned on the overhead fan/ambient noise and faded away.
Well, in my defense, I had been up since five, so I could put the turkey and ham into the oven hours before I needed to and make sure they almost burned. Fortunately, the only thing that burned was the pan of honey glazed carrots and, as I said at the time, if you are going to burn anything on Thanksgiving Day, it might as well be carrots.
Almost all the family was here--we were just missing seven--those North Carolina people and the Chicago five. So the twenty one of us played games and took pictures and just enjoyed the time together...not to mention all the pies and cheesecakes and chocolate and snickerdoodles.
It was lovely--the weather crisp and cool, the leaves crunchy.
Thanks, God, for such a peaceful time in our small pocket of the world.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Babysitting Brave Boys

Last week I got to do something special.

We have a banquet every year to promote the school and raise funds. It's great food, and a good speaker, and I usually host a table, but this year I kept the nursery--not just little babies, mind you, but toddlers and elementary aged children as well. There were supposed to be eleven youngsters, but we ended up with seven--six little boys and a girl. They came in like a freight train, and proceeded to derail--toppling all the nursery toys with them. All the quiet tracing and coloring activities I had planned to do had to wait for a lull in the energy level. Fortunately, I had a group of student helper/ helper per child, if you count Turtle and me. It was great!

They ate pizza; (we got plates from the banquet room). They ignored the chocolate chip cookies and got excited about coloring a long mural with markers and pasting fall leaves all over a hastily drawn tree. We had to watch them every second, however. These two little angels in the first video were occupied with dishes and setting the table (man style). I turned my back on them to get something and they decided to make the slide more exciting by "jacking" it up on blocks. One of the students called me and I was in time to stop them from launching themselves over their newly elevated creation, but they were on the ladder already...who knows what would have ensued...and then again, they acted like they had done this before. Kids.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mad Kane's Humor Blog

In times like these...stock market going wild, people scurrying around with question marks on their faces...well you can't be serious every minute, or your body will explode with ulcers. I stumbled upon this site once where a retired lawyer invites people to write limericks and haiku. Today her topic was : Dentists, so I slogged out a verse reminding me of a particular dental disaster I endured about three years ago, when a dentist pulled out a tooth without ex-raying first and ended up fracturing my jaw and creating a hole through to my sinus cavity. Needless to say, I switched dentists, but on cold days my face still hurts from the trauma. Anyway, what do you do? Laugh about it. Here is my limerick... and the haiku.

At first I considered my cavity
A disaster of no special gravity
But the dentist—Forsooth--
Wrenched out the whole tooth.
In an instant of mental depravity

“Million dollar smile!”
“Puts money where your mouth is”

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don't Be a Stranger Now, Ya Hear?

The loneliest part of moving to a new place is not being seen...

fading into the sidewalk as their glances shoot through you to a friend they see behind.

No hurried "however are ya's",
No "hey, I was just thinkin' about ya's"
Not even the veriest, teeniest, little blink of a nod
that says "I know who you be, just can't talk now."

Only the cursory glance from the civil,
The uncaring, scowl from the rude,
And the blind stare of those who hate by apathy.

But overhead the same bright sun on the leaves, and you know by night you'll recognize the same glorious moon.

God is no stranger.

For Sunday Scribblings.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


David stood quietly, waiting for his change, one anxious little brown hand holding tightly to the sack which held a loaf of bread.
“Change, change,” mumbled the old clerk as his slow fingers sought the right amount, “Everybody wants change, today.”
It was a comment that needed no answer, but the clerk at the next counter—a young fellow hardly out of school—responded immediately, as if irritated by the old man’s teasing:
“And why not? Sometimes change is good; it’s needed.”
The aged man stopped, his gnarled hand in mid-air, and turned around to address the clerk, whose face was full of enthusiasm and something else, satisfaction perhaps.
“He’s nothing but a socialist,” he said softly, yet not able to keep the anger out of his words.
“Is that so bad, old man,” countered the clerk, not without affection, “now maybe you'll be able to afford another pair of glasses; maybe they'll be able to save this tumbling economy.”
“Or have to close down the store, and we'll be out of a job,” said the older, with a humph.
“That’s the problem with your generation, always seeing the worst; grumbling, griping, grieving. Face it; your party lost the election. Life will go on.”
“Not all life,” said the old man, sadly, turning back around to face his little customer whose hand was still open for the change.
The exultant clerk couldn’t stop talking now, even though he found himself addressing the elder's mute and stubborn back.
“Now don’t start sounding like one of those “sanctity of life” types. As far as I’m concerned it’s a matter of definitions--semantics. This change is just what we need. You’ll see. We haven’t had a man like him in the capital before. Don’t you see how he brings people together? There’s an energy there. They love him.”
“Ay, they do,” admitted the older man as he gave the child a handful of change. Something like a shadow was on his face, and he smiled—rather sorrowfully, David thought--as he reached into a jar on the counter, pulled out a red, striped peppermint and bestowed it, as an apology for the unnecessarily long wait.
David skipped and ran all seven blocks to his crowded ghetto. Children up and down the block were putting toys away and rushing through narrow doorways into the cheerless tenement walls, and the intense evening sun made yellow stars of the dingy cobblestones.
Although he was greatly enjoying the peppermint, a parting gift from an out-of-touch generation, David felt that the younger man was right: Change is good!
It was great to be a young German in 1933.
“Come quickly, my eldest son,” said his mother pulling him inside. “It’s almost Sabbath.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Birds of a Feather...

One last comment about Rob Bell and Velvet Elvis.

When it is difficult to tell what an author believes, one way to determine that is to consider the people he or she recommends in the book. I followed several of the links. They speak for themselves. If you want to see what I'm talking about, go check this one out:

Anne Lamott

Understand, I am not attacking everything that is good with emergents; I believe that many of them do love God. What I am trying to do here is offer some explanation for my resistance to joining and supporting this movement wholesale.

The scriptures warn us to be careful in our beliefs, to avoid false teachers, and to guard against apostasy. I would be remiss to avoid the subject because it causes controversy.

Recently, I've discovered a lot of people who share my feelings about this. Here are three sites I found helpful.

One of the best books I've found on this subject is a book by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck called "Why We're Not Emergent (By two guys who should be)". If you are going to read Emergent books, you owe it to yourself to read this one. I'm amazed at how many times these two authors wrote something that addressed my very concerns. It seems not all younger people are being naively swept away by this precursor to a worldwide religion--one predicted, oddly enough, in Revelation and given as a sign for the last days: One world economic system, one world government, one world religion. No wonder it makes me nervous. It should make you nervous too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Young Warrior

My daughter Claye* has finished another sculpture, model of a fellow student in her clay class. Now he has to dry for a few weeks and then go to the kiln to be baked--hopefully not to explode.
I persuaded her to take a lot of pictures in case he does. The fellow art student who posed for this one really likes that she put him in chain mail, which looks "really cool" and he appreciates lions and includes them in much of his art, so the neck-medallion is a nod to that. Right now, the clay is wet, so the white texture lines stand out. Eventually, they won't. The drying has to happen at just the right intervals--inside and outside taking turns, so, it has to be wrapped in plastic, then paper for several turns until it is dry enough to fire. It could take a long time.

*Well, that's what I call her online.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Man-Centered vs. God-Centered

Just as placing the earth as the center of the universe is offering a skewed view of things, so placing man at the center of our relationship with God is seeing things in a messed-up way.

One of the characteristics of post-modern Christianity is a tendency to elevate man and demote God. No longer is God seen as holy and awe inspiring. Rather, he is a jolly, Santa-like individual or even--in some conversations--a woman cooking pancakes in the kitchen. We are not creatures who have "faith in God", but rather, "He has faith in us." And while this sounds like creative expression stumbling upon a truth, there is nothing in the scripture to support this view. Like every other softening of doctrine, this is simply post-modernism molding around the edges of what was once a fresh slice of bread. God's love for his children becomes an excuse to take his name lightly; Christ's humilty in serving, an occasion for us to make demands upon Him, His willingness to give his life for us, a reason for us to inflate our own importance.

All this leads to an acceptance of our own unrighteousness, a tolerance of sin in our lives, a constant listening to that "little lawyer" who argues: "I'm not so bad. Why change, if God loves me just the way I am?"
A.W. Tozer addresses this attitude in his book, The Pursuit of Man.

At the base of all true Christian experience must lie a sound and sane morality. No joys are valid, no delights legitimate where sin is allowed to live in life or conduct. No transgression of pure righteousness dare excuse itself on the ground of superior religious experience. To seek high emotional states while living in sin is to throw our whole life open to self deception and the judgment of God. "Be ye holy" is not a mere motto to be framed and hung on the wall. It is a serious commandment from the Lord of the whole earth.
This is a warning that should be taken seriously by the Emergent church.

Gonna be a Big Day Here!

We've got lights!
The camera is rolling!
After many hours of practice...
The senior play is today...well the matinee is today!
And while it is just a silly, little comedy about pirates, there is something rewarding about watching students excel. They are amazing--each one holding up lines, each relying on another, and knowing that another is relying on them: If the lights don't go out at the crucial spot, there will be a moment of embarassment for Captain Belvedere, who will walk the plank onto the carpet instead of into the Caribbean; if the cannon doesn't arrive at the right moment...evil Captain Long John will run out of threats and his captors will be frozen on stage; if Roger Goodman forgets the "parrot" line, it will in a small way detract from Belinda's observation that parrots are soooo piratey. Learning to trust and rely on each other, to appreciate the unique gifts of each other--whether they be a gift for accents, a strong, clear, voice, or the ability to give a clever little smirk at the exact right time--these are benefits of class plays. It is worth all the hours I have spent and the days the English teacher has spent putting it all together.

Tomorrow we have several activities planned--In the morning there are all-state tryouts for vocal students, a parade for the band, and junior supper preparation. (for some junior moms and for me; I'll learn how to marinate and grill pork chops, I think) We will start serving the junior supper at five. The senior play starts at 7:30. Make-up! Lights! Pirates!

Sometimes it good to get away from the seriousness of life in these turbulent times...(although if it were real piracy we were talking about...well we won't think about that now will we?)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Three Back

It has been a month since the accident.

Joshua came back first--after a week of absence. He was pale and quiet, but seemed relieved to be around his friends.

Aaron came back a couple of weeks ago, and has been getting around well on his crutches; the smile is back too--although a little hindered by the fact that his jaw is still wired shut.

Today Paul came back to school, in a wheel chair, with an older brother in tow to help him adjust to classes again. He has had the most difficult time, because, while he was in the hospital, another older brother was killed in a car wreck. In fact, he attended the memorial service upon leaving the hospital himself. If you read this, stop and pray for him. It's a heavy load for a kid to carry.

We are still missing our fellow teacher,Patty, but we know that she is progressing well, and the prognosis for her walking again--on her own legs-- is good. In rehab, she is learning to get into a wheelchair, eating normally--all the tubes are out--and catching up with life.
I heard that she was worried that the carmel syrup in the teacher's workroom would run out and I wouldn't have anything to put in my coffee because she knows I don't like the rasberry flavor--just made me want to go hug her.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

But What If...

This post will be a bit longer, but I have to show you how the Emergent church philosophy poses a danger to the Christian Faith. While they profess to love Christ, and while they do stress living like He would want, many emergents also attack His own claims to divinity.

This long quote is from page 026 of Velvet Elvis:

What is tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry's tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?

But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being "born of a virgin" also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?

What if that spring was seriously questioned?

Could a person keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?

I affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible and much more. I'm a part of it and I want to pass it on to the next generation. I believe that God created everything and that Jesus is Lord and that God has plans to restore everything.

First of all, let me say that this is a strange kind of way to affirm anything. First you attack with a superficial, silly argument, then you say ...but what if this time you are presenting a valid argument. Then you make assertions and half-truths about what the scripture means, presenting an oft-quoted argument against the "virgin birth." ...and saying, in effect, so if it was all a lie and God didn't send his Son to earth to redeem mankind, but Jesus was just a man who lied about knowing God so your hope of eternal life is really just wistful thinking, could you still believe? You don't have much faith if you don't."

It's like saying this:

What if tomorrow the doctor came to you with the result of your family's DNA tests and told you that your three children belonged to your wife, but they each had different fathers, none of whom were you, and one of whom was an Italian with a Gypsy ancestor...

but what if as you confront your wife she explains to you that the word "faithful" to her just means full of faith in you, that she still loves you and is so thankful that you allow her to use your name to sign the checks; it has nothing to do with who she sleeps with when you are touring the country, leaving her alone with the Italian chauffeur; the word wife, to her, means that she will inherit half of your estate when you die?

Could you keep jumping? Could you still trust her? Would you still have a good marriage? Or would the whole thing come crashing down?

Don't worry. I affirm the historic institution of marriage--with all its beliefs about words like faithful and true, with whatever shade of meaning the culture has colored them, and I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. Really.

Slippery, slippery arguments--They are more like, accuse, slap, slap---then quickly pull your audience back with: "no, really, I affirm you--with what ever doctrine you happen to believe."
(Notice. He affirms the historic Christian church--with its doctrines--not the doctrines.)

So what does he believe? Really?

Simply this: that "God created everything and that Jesus is Lord and that God has plans to restore everything."

After that it's open. Where is sin, punishment, redemption, forgiveness, resurrection, eternal life? Where is realistic recognition of our depravity, and a hope: the "good news" from the gospel?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Check This Out

So I went online and found this interview.

Supposedly, it's a discussion about his latest book, but it really meanders into other things--on and on for twenty self-congratulatory minutes. All this from a "conversation" that decries consumerism in the traditional church?

Emergent Lesson Number Eight--The Way?

Most Emergent teachers do not believe the traditional teaching of Heaven, arguing that Christ planned for a kingdom which restores all things for the entire world, neither do they declare that Christ is the "only way" to know God. That is a doctrine of "exclusivity", and they wish to embrace everyone and everyone's beliefs. This would seem to be the kindest way for one to live, unless one honestly believes that eternity matters, that sin will be judged, and that Christ's own words declare his salvation as being a unique gift to mankind. You cannot, in fact, read the words of Christ and make them inoffensive to all people. Anytime you draw a line in the sand--an absolute--it necessarily divides.

Therefore, if one claims to love Christ and hail him as the most perfect being who ever lived, yet wants to embrace this doctrine of universalism, he must reinterpret scripture. Rob Bell does this in his book, Velvet Elvis. He says:

"Jesus at one point claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality. This kind of life Jesus was living , perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are."

And while I agree completely with that next-to-last sentence, the rest of the statement is simply false. If you look at the entire verse, instead of the first half, you can see that plainly. Ignoring the context of this verse also lends itself to misinterpretation.

The entire passage is from John 14: 1-6

"Don't let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Thomas said to him: Lord we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?

Jesus said to him: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

You see, He isn't talking about a "way to do things". He is talking about a "road" a "route" a "way"... and in the process, He is being exclusive. With conversation like that, I wonder how Jesus himself can be embraced by those who claim to love him yet disregard His own words about himself.

Testimony or Story

The Bible is full of testimony. It deals with what people saw, with what they know.

Job says: "I know that my redeemer lives, and that He shall stand in the last day upon the earth, and though the skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God."

Paul says: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him against that day."

The blind man, healed by Jesus, and accosted by the Pharisees simply told what he knew: once he was blind; now he could see.

That's testimony--witnessing to the truth. It's what the church is about.

In the Emergent "conversation" however, testimony is uncomfortable--too rigid, too close to assuming an existing truth that is possible to approach or stray from.

They prefer "story".

I like stories, don't get me wrong, but they lend themselves to enlarging, warping, minimizing, or changing the truth; they may supplement, but should never take the place of testimony.

Jesus told stories sometimes, to emphasize a point, but when he was alone with his disciples, he explained them all. . . and he was concerned with truth and testimony. He testified of the Father, and He was constantly saying, of a truth I tell you; The old, "verily, verily," means truthfully, truthfully. It is the truth that He said we would know; that would make us free.

What kind of Atheist are You?

Yesterday evening I read an article by Brian McClaren, an Emergent leader, which made perfect sense to me. Now there, I mused to myself, is an article I can fully agree with. It sounds good.

He discussed the fact that many atheists aren't that at all. They just don't believe in a certain type of God, maybe the God represented by a family member they dislike or a God conception they have known since childhood. He asserts that the key to bringing them into faith or relationship with God, is finding out what God they don't believe in and changing that idea.

I quote:

"So, if you could find a way to believe in God the way some of us do, and not the way your sister does, maybe it would be OK?"

"Wow, that really helps me," he said. A few months later, he did come to a deep faith in God, which continues to grow today. A lot of pastors have learned from similar experiences to ask people, when they say they are atheists, "Tell me about the God you don't believe in." More often than not, we can say, "I don't believe in that kind of God either. I can't blame you for being an atheist if that's the understanding of God that you're rejecting."

Of course, many people are more "orthodox" atheists of the naturalistic sort, refusing to believe in anything beyond physics and mathematics. But according to the Pew data, there are a significant number out there who at first seem to be simply illogical by claiming both atheism and belief in some sort of deity ... but with further conversation, it turns out they have an interesting spiritual story full of unresolved tensions, and that story isn't finished yet. Which is true of us all.

This morning, however, I awoke with a cautionary thought: We need to be careful that we don't tailor God to fit what people like, so they will believe in Him. God is revealed in the scripture as a God of both mercy and judgment. People like the mercy part; they don't want to accept the judgment. If we tell them "God is just a happy, free-spirited, dancing, best friend who doesn't really care how you live as long as you are reaching your full potential, believing in yourself, thinking good thoughts, and loving your neighbor." we are giving them a tailor made god, but where is truth in that? Man has always made his own gods...some pleasant to serve, some terrible. Our job is to help man find the real God, not make one he can't possibly find offensive.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Things I Say

I don't mean to take away from the authority and benefit of the church, which is the body of Christ. I feel that community and fellowship are very necessary in a Christian life. Having said that, however, I also contend that the scripture alone is enough to save lives. People who are given the scriptures, even in the absence of a teacher, are able to find God.

People don't suffer from a lack of understanding as often as they suffer from an unwillingness to accept the message.

Rob Bell says, for instance, that the passage: Love they neighbor as thyself, is a difficult one. After all, who is thy neighbor? What does it mean to love? What does this involve?

He is following the path of those who questioned Christ about those words?
"Who is my neighbor?"

Christ explained by telling a story about a good Samaritan who befriends an unfortunate robbery victim. He doesn't address the question directly, but His point is obvious: You know well what I'm saying.

This propensity for asking: "Why?", "Why", and "Why" is not always an admirable trait. Carried to an extreme, it is simply a childish way of avoiding responsibility for the commandment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Understanding Scripture

Part Four--Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis and the Emergent Church.

Bell, spends a good deal of time explaining that we cannot understand scripture as it stands. We each interpret it to fit our own viewpoint, and therefore we need a community to explain the scripture to us. He proves this by quoting some scriptures that are difficult to understand.

I do see the need for each of us to apply scripture to our own life, and, granted, there are some scriptures that don't really apply to us; they were for another people--addressing a specific need in another time. Also, some scriptures are difficult; they can be interpreted more than one way. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in our understanding of them, just as Bell says.

However, there are also some concepts in the scripture that are very plain. They are only "hard to understand" because you disagree with them and want to make them say what fits your preconceived viewpoint.

To say that we cannot understand the Bible except through community is to take away the power of the Word of God to the individual. It is regressing. . . to a time when individual believers were told what to think by a larger community. Not only that. It's a little frightening: Usually, when someone tells you that you cannot possibly understand a thing this important without help, their next step is telling you what it means.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Interruption--a smile makes everyone feel better.

I'm taking a moment away from the serious topics that I've been discussing. One of my friends from Gunnison days just sent me a picture of her grandson Noah.

It's October. Such joys God brings into the world!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Part Three of What Could Turn into an Epic

Questions are a staple of this "Emergent" Christianity, and although, as an educator, I love questions, this extreme view of questioning troubles me.
I quote from Velvet Elvis:

"and that is why questions are so central to faith. A question by its very nature acknowledges that the person asking the question does not have all of the answers...Questions, no matter how shocking or blasphemous or arrogant or ignorant or raw, are rooted in humility."

Is this just hyperbole for shock effect? I hope so. I can think of a lot of questions that are not rooted in humility.
How about: "Didn't God say that you should not eat from any tree in the garden?"...the Serpent, his humbleness,
or "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain in a moment of brotherly concern,
or "Wherein does your great strength lie?"... Delilah, trying to bolster her low self-esteem, in the presence of one she admired.
or "Am I a dog, that you should come against me with sticks?"...Goliath, in a great show of Philistine humility.

Well, all that aside, assuming Bell is talking about honest--although blasphemous-- God-seeking questions, I still have a problem with where he takes this:

He likens Christianity to a trampoline and compares the springs to doctrines of the Christian faith. They give and stretch, and should be challenged, added or removed. He insists that the doctrine of the trinity, for example, was added years after the New Testament was completed, and wasn't necessary as a belief before it was formally named. He also challenges the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ, by attacking it, then affirming it, then asking (humbly, of course):

"if the whole faith falls apart when we re-examine and rethink one spring, then it wasn't that strong in the first place, was it?"

The doctrine of Christ's deity, however, is more than just a minor bounce enhancer on the trampoline of Christianity; it is a leg that supports the structure, and by the time one has finished twisting and stretching and chopping at that leg, the trampoline will be lying on the ground. True, you can still invite a lot of people over to play, but the jumping won't be so fun.

Reforming--and the Christian Faith

In his book, Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell proposes that we need to reform the faith. Claiming the precedent set by Martin Luther, he insists that his mission is not only valid, but vital.

Now, I'm not against reformation. I'm not against staying in touch with the needs and language of the population, I would love to see a revival and a return of passion in the church, but Bell isn't talking about that. He says:

By this I do not mean cosmetic, superficial changes like better lights and music, sharper graphics, and new methods with easy to follow steps. "I mean theology: the beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, the future. We must keep reforming the way the Christian faith is defined, lived, and explained.

The heart of Martin Luther's reformation was the Bible. He believed what it said, that man was saved by grace, not by works; that man could reach God through Christ and did not have to go through priests. Reading the scripture made him realize how far the church had strayed from the truth. His reformation was a calling back to basic scriptural principles.

In contrast, the Emergent movement, agnostic in nature--we cannot know God, we cannot understand scripture, we cannot explain--wants to twist and bend, and in some cases remove these cardinal beliefs.

Luther's word was "Faith". Theirs is "Doubt."

In fact, Bell's church sponsored a "doubt night" where people sat around baring their souls with their lack of understanding. I don't feel that it is wrong to ask questions; but I see no value in questions without answers. Yes, Abraham did question God, but it was not his doubt that was commended: it was his faith.

I can just see the children of Israel, sitting around in the desert for a time of sharing and dialogue to air their doubts about the giants in Canaan...oh wait, that's exactly what they did. It cost them too.

Job asked questions also, but it was his trust in God that brought about his victory!

We should not presume to "darken counsel without knowledge".

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Emergent Christianity

I've just finished reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, one of the hugely-popular leaders in the emergent church movement. Sure, I've seen a couple of his "Noomas" in chapel, and appreciated the particular needs they addressed, so I thought this book would be interesting and intense.

Well, I was right on that count; Rob states his "cutting edge" views with intensity--as if they are the only possible views for modern Christians. In many places I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Christianity is about knowing Christ. It is relational, and that's a strong point in the book's favor. However, Rob's insistence that Christianity needs to be "re-painted" every few years is a potentially dangerous concept: In passage after passage of this book, I felt that "gospel" was being white-washed, spruced-up, garnished with shades of meaning that aren't really in the Biblical text. Why? So it will fit with the themes of popular culture. I feel there is a great danger in where this leads. In repainting God in our image, we become the creators.

Blogs are short, so I won't try to cover all my discussion in this entry. Instead, I will be addressing one issue a day for the next week or so.

Why criticize, you say; just let the man alone; if he believes in Christ, that is enough. I criticize because I'm seeing half-truths and perilous attitudes being showered upon the younger generation; I'm afraid that in their acceptance of the newest re-painting, they will lose the image of what is basic about the faith:

Christ, who is God, came in the flesh, died for our sins, and rose again to reconcile us with the Father. We can know God. We can understand the scripture. Faith is stronger than Doubt. These are cardinal. They are important.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pictures from the Fall Concert

I'm hoping these will lift some spirits--Here's a lot of pictures from the fall concert. It is called a Blast from the Past. Most of the students are dressed in fifties style...but I did see a few in sixties and seventies. It's great fun. Notice: the girls like to pose better than the guys. I did manage to sneak in a couple of them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Overwhelming Statistics.

Having recently been disturbed by the trend to extend the "pro-life" label to all aspects of human life (capital punishment, war, poverty, environmentalism, you-name-it) so that "pro-choice" candidates could claim the moral high ground, I did a little research in the field. One of the most troubling of the articles I read came from a minister, who said we shouldn't "let one issue trump all the others" when we voted, meaning, of course, that we should not let our stand on abortion affect our vote. I feel that the issue itself trumps all the others. :

Americans killed in wars since 1973: 6,830.
At an X for every 100 it would look like this:


Americans killed by capital punishment from 1973-2004: 983
At an X for every 100 it would look like this:


Total Americans killed in all wars from the Revolutionary War on: 1,315, 00.At an X for every 100 it fills six pages of X's.
That's pretty impressive.

Abortions in the U.S. from 1973-2004 : 42,470,000.
At an X for every 100 it fills 188 pages full of X's
How can it NOT trump everything else?

Anyway, I actually printed out all the pages and put them on the wall. It looks like this:

The Green Page is capital punishment, the gray is wars since 1973, the yellow pages represent all Americans ever killed in war, and the white pages are those full of abortions--over 200,000 per page (as each typed X represents 100)
My seniors are making a video of the display for You-Tube. I think it will be called simply X=100.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just For Fun

Here's a few really short videos from the Pumpkin Festival. For the Children, it was a magical day. What a great age, when little things make them so happy! An interesting conversation taking place while the third video is playing really contrasts the reaction of teen-agers, who would rather die than admit that a small town celebration like this can be entertaining.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


As a member of the Lions' Club, my husband is called upon, from time to time, to sell fund-raising tickets for a benevolence project: this time it was for building a skate park for our community children (who will probably still skateboard on the sidewalks and use the elderly for bowling pins, but that's irrelevant). Turtle, however, has a dilemma. It hardly seems appropriate for a minister to ask his congregation to buy raffle tickets.

He had to sell ten. They cost twenty dollars each. So, reluctantly, after a church dinner, he asked for twenty dollar donations for the Lion's club project. The ticket with your name on it, he would just present as an afterthought for those who donated. And then, as is usually the case, he bought the unsold ones himself...gotta support those Lions.

Yesterday, at the the Pumpkin Festival, in front of the entire town and half the population of the county, he won the grand prize for the raffle--a big screen TV--42 inches.

I have no idea where to put it. Right now we don't even have cable. There is a TV in the basement for watching DVD's, and a smaller one in the guest room for the WII. I just don't know...he wants to trade it for a Bass boat or a pontoon boat, but that would entail more money. I suggested we use it in the guest room for the Nintendo game, but he thinks that would be a waste. Our children say they will take it off our hands, but he isn't really open to that suggestion; after all, he has never won anything before. Ah Turtle.

P.S. Turtle reminded me that he did win something before, a tiny little black and white TV. But that was from putting his name in a jar at the hardware store when we lived in Matador, Texas. . . what is it with TV's? A laptop now, that would have been great. sigh.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Power of Three Little Words!

Well, it turned out to be a good day after all. We had a little trouble getting the tank here, and some not-too-bright, un-named sponsor tried to switch spots and set it up next to the seniors...before the school insurance agent pointed out that if a softball hit one of the plate glass windows behind us, we would lose all our profits...for the next twenty years. So I ordered it back to the original spot, blocking the alley--since a barbecue wagon had taken up our marked spot as well as theirs. Fortunately nobody needed to use that alley anyway. We had no dignitaries to sit for us...not even youth pastors...who stayed away in droves today. Nope. Mainly, we had little brothers of juniors. Only one of my juniors was brave enough to splash in herself. After she left, and the later shift began, the three girls who were manning the booth refused to sit there. One of them had a brother who volunteered...then his little friends volunteered. We actually made more money than I thought we would...of course I thought we wouldn't make any at all and would have to chalk this one up to experience. So how did I avoid being railroaded into sitting on the tank. My three little words:
Sure, after you!

Pumpkin Festival

Today's the Pumpkin Festival--A big thing for this little town. There will be food booths selling pumpkin rolls, pumpkin pies, pumpkin fritters and just pumpkins--maybe.

My Juniors have a dunk tank. This is supposed to be a fund raiser. um huh.
One little problem. It's nippy outside. Nobody has agreed to sit up on the chair and be our dunkee.

I'm wondering if we will even cover our fifty dollar investment to rent the spot. I guessing we will have to pay people to be dunked. There. There. Don't be so pessimistic, Lil.

Who's stupid idea was this anyway...oh wait. I think it was mine...back during those scorching summer days of long ago August.

I'm going up there. Pray for me. I have the distinct feeling that I'm going to get dunked...again and again. Glub Glub Glub.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's Hard to Keep Up...

...with the pace of technology.

15 years ago I divided my CSIII class into groups and assigned each one a "journey of the Apostle Paul" to research and present to the class. Each team drew a map upon which they traced the route of their journey and drew eight pictures representing the events which happened. They taped their pictures to the wall and "presented" the journey as if they were one of the original missionary team, explaining what had happened at every stop.

10 years ago the project took a leap into computer land. This time the pictures were scanned into a computer and connected with a program called hypercard. Wow. We were amazed. True, we had to crowd around the computer to see it, but it was worth the trouble. Some of the cards even had a little bit of animation!

5 years ago all the cards were set as power point presentations, and pictures to illustrate them were downloaded from the internet. Since this didn't take as long, I added requirements: commercials for three major towns and testimonies for two characters, and a few sentences on each card explaining it. Many of the labels and pictures were animated. One map even had a set of arrows that followed the journey.

Last year the minimum was thirty cards. All the story had to be re-phrased (not copied from the ready made accounts of Paul's journeys already on the internet) Music and sound effects were added and attached. All the maps had animated arrows or footprints. We watched the shows on the big screen in the auditorium.

We are beginning this project next Monday. I'm guessing that when the students start searching the internet they will find the project already completed and free to what do I add? Sigh. Technology. Maybe I should hand out blank sheets of paper, Bibles, and map colors.