28 December 2010

A little place for our stuff

There's fitting everybody in the car, and then there's fitting everybody's PILLOW in the car.

Deep, slow breaths . . . .

21 December 2010

Motives, multiple and mixed

Babygirl has passed the seven-month mark. (What?! When did that happen?)

Babygirl has yet to be offered so much as a spoonful of rice cereal.

In light of the rather surprised reaction I got from someone who inquired about Babygirl’s eating habits the other day, I was just musing on the potential interpretations of this situation. Why might I have a seven-and-a half-month-old who’s yet to taste “solids”? Here are just a few of the motives that suggest themselves:

1) I’m some sort of lactavist who’s trying to make some sort of point.
2) I’m one of those holistic earthy (glossing “wacko”) types who sincerely believe in the mom-and-baby benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first year.
3) I’m too cheap to buy baby food and too lazy to make it.
4) Breastfeeding is my hobby.
5) I’m reluctant for this sweet stage of my daughter’s babyhood to end.
6) I’m concerned about potential food allergies.
7) I’m struggling with one of the following vices:

a)Gluttony, since a largish parasite makes the skinny jeans a lot more likely during the Christmas season.
b)Sloth, since those first few months of force-feeding solids are nothing but a messy hassle that adds yet another task to the daily routine.
c)Cowardice, since the more the baby nurses, the less likely she is to have a sibling anytime soon (in my humble experience. Not true for everyone, as we are all well aware).

I wish my motives were simply and sweetly multiple, rather than severely mixed, but was there ever a CSPP whose mind didn’t stampede anxiously on ahead, no matter how sternly she bid it be still? On most days, were I to untangle the web of motives behind that empty highchair tray, all of the above would be among the sticky strands. Excepting #1, because I’m really not interested in using my baby’s nutritional needs to try to make some kind of dramatic point that nobody is really interested in anyway. ‘Cause you know what? Everybody else is also busily caught up in the drama of her own multiple and mixed motives.

So. Feeling ever more Adventish, we pray ever more fervently. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. And while we wait, tease out the snarls of our knotted, fearful foolishness. Left to ourselves, we tangle, we fray, we come undone. Weave our loose threads securely into the grand tapestry, until the Day when we can finally, finally, finally see the intricacies of the Master pattern for ourselves.

20 December 2010

Next question?

How best to answer the question, "Are you going to have any more?"? With a pious witness to God's gift of life? With a droll rejoinder pointing out the question's invasiveness? With a note of weariness to head off the theology of glory?

I have run out of energy for such rhetorical finessing when there is an answer which is both simple and accurate (and I must thank My Own Sister for sharing this profound insight with me): "I don't know."

16 December 2010

Chemical despondency

Should the day come that no other person is forced to metabolize everything I consume, I can't promise not to become a junkie.

I biss you so buch.

14 December 2010

Apocalypse soon

Some say the couch will end in slime
Some in art
From what I've tasted of wintertime
I hold with those who favor slime
But if it had to twice depart,
I think I know enough of crayon
To say that for destruction art
Pities no divan
And would do its part

(For extra credit: where did I grow up?)

13 December 2010


Bottles have their place. They sure got Baby 1 and me through a tight spot. But they also have their time, and folks, that time just wasn't the last six months BC.

Thanks to Father Hollywood for providing the day's amusement, and to the local Sunday school program which was rehearsing the Christmas program rather than distributing this poorly thought out thingy to the children of our parish.

10 December 2010

Per Pacem Ad Lucem

by Adelaide A. Procter

I DO not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load;

I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.

For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright—
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed—
Through Peace to Light.

I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed
Full radiance here;
Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread
Without a fear.

I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.

Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night:
Lead me, O Lord,—till perfect Day shall shine,
Through Peace to Light.

HT: Starck's Prayer Book

09 December 2010

Purgative speech

Some people are jerks for not blogging any more. No need to mention names. At least we have our memories:

"Maybe it is gossip, but I need to vent." No you don't. You don't need to say evil things about people. You are not a pressure cooker. It is not building in you. Gossip does not "get things off your chest." It puts things into your heart. It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a man unclean.

There is purgative speech. It is called confession. It unburdens a man. It is never about annoying co-workers. It is about the penitent's lack of love and patience. It is not about the inequity of life. It is the envy of the penitent. The difference between gossip and confession is the difference between date rape drugs and anesthesia.

08 December 2010

Fa la la la la! La la la BLAT!

Another poem for the season:

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

--Ogden Nash

I really hope you, dear reader, are having a far less messy week than I.

07 December 2010

What if everyone just stopped talking?

The Elephant's Child recently posted her frustration regarding the harassment received by couples who are given few, if any, children. She's right to be frustrated. And she's right to expect kindness from her fellows who confess as she confesses that Christ is Lord; that He has died, risen and ascended; that He is coming again.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky once wrote, "To love someone means to see him as God intended him." This simple notion is anything but simplistic, for what God intends is often beyond what makes us comfortable. There are those of us who have and continue to receive children as a matter of faith; there are those of us who cannot receive, also as a matter of faith. It is the Lord, let Him do what seems good to Him. From thence, might we His children receive one another in peace, and speak what is True in kindness and love, for all have fallen short and our time is not long upon this earth. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

That is all.

04 December 2010

Joshua commanded the children to shout!

I no longer have an abdominal wall. I have an abdominal concept.

03 December 2010


I hear talk occasionally about matchmaking on behalf of one's children. While it's not a topic that particularly excites me in any direction, it does make me wonder what poor schlump I'd be married to now if my parents had been into it.

Hope you like spaetzle!

02 December 2010

The good mom

Where does she come from? And where does she go?

01 December 2010

A simple something for your Adventide

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember:

"We are nearer to spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

--Oliver Herford

Sing it, Mom. Sing it every day. Christ is coming! He is coming soon!

And everything you do in the meantime matters.

30 November 2010

So you want to be a church worker

Hey, that's great. So did I once.

But I remember a professor back at CUNE backing up a student who took umbrage to the term "church worker." She was majoring in business or something like that and was involved at her church, but since she wasn't a DC[vowel] or LTD student, she wasn't a church worker. No, she was just a person who would be tithing on a real wage and serving her local parish not on the clock but with her free time. Think of it! Furthermore, she wasn't receiving a "church work" scholarship she'd feel obligated to work off even if she married and had children soon after graduation.

It is understandable for pious people to want to make a career of piety. But I wonder if career-ifying the service of lay people is best either for them or for the church. Lutheran school teachers, DC[vowel]s, deaconesses, and all the rest are, it is no secret, very poorly compensated (much worse than pastors). Placement is a constant problem, especially in the current economic climate. And I'm sure I'm not the only person who knows numerous Ministers of Religion-Commissioned who have been treated absolutely shamefully by church employers who ask far too much of them in the name of "ministry."

What would happen if all the good-hearted Concordia students of the world chose majors which gave them reliable prospects for a comfortable (might I even venture "fair"?) wage, supported their families thereby, and made church service a regular family extracurricular? How many families like this would it take to do the work of one full-time staff person, and what would those families gain from spending more time together at church? How might it benefit the unbelieving world to have more skilled Christian laborers, businessmen, and professionals rather than an ill-defined class of church-employed persons busying themselves in that sequestered environment with needs that have always existed in the church but only recently began requiring full time staff people? How might this affect perceptions of the doctrine of vocation? How might the church be affected by having fewer people on payroll and more people tithing off greater incomes?

I'm not saying the "church workers" are bad. I'm saying the opposite. They are devout, good-hearted people, as they have exhibited by being willing to make less money and take jobs which the world does not respect. But just imagine if all those people didn't go into full time "church work." They'd make enough money for their families to have more than soup and muffins for supper all winter. They'd have ongoing relationships with coworkers outside the church. They'd show up at church more often than Sunday morning because the life of the church is a priority for them. They'd be at evening Bible classes asking good questions. They'd be demonstrating to their kids that the best use of their free time is in the service of God and His people.

I wonder how pastors would answer if given the choice between one full time "church worker," or five active celibates or families who showed up every Cleanup Day and Wednesday night and at the homes of the sick and lonely; who salted the world and bore witness to Christ every day in their places of work; who sought pastoral counsel in matters of life and theology; who (in the case of families) grew and blessed the parish with well-catechized, church-loving children.

26 November 2010

About that mess in the kitchen

You know the great and glorious mess that graces many a kitchen after the Thanksgiving feast? The perilously piled platters, scattered scraps, and greasy flotsam? And you know how everyone’s totally OK with it, because that’s just the way a kitchen looks after it’s been used to cook a bunch of food from scratch so that a lotta people can gather round the table together for prayer and feasting?

Well, as it so happens, there are quite a few days around here when I prepare a bunch of food from scratch so that a lotta people can gather round the table together for prayer and feasting. So while my kitchen disaster-zone rating might only make it up to Thanksgiving levels a couple times a year, there are days a-plenty when it registers in the red. (And given the few-and-fleeting moments in which I have two hands free lately, it’d be miraculous if the kitchen were clean even if I had fewer mouths to feed or made less from scratch.) I think I’ve said it before, but I’ve been thinking it again of late: Flylady, I do admire your initiative (even if I find your perennial perkiness daunting) and I gladly would shine my sink, every single day…if only I could find it.

This too: Our Savior graciously invites us to gather round His own table for prayer and feasting—and I don’t need to look beyond my own heart to know that the corners of the linoleum haven’t all received a proper scrubbing. Nevertheless, the Supper is wondrously nourishing, and beautifully served to all comers. Life’s messiness lurks around the edges of the table but cannot diminish the joy of the feast. Someday, oh Some Day, we will gather around that table with hearts whose creeping mildew has finally been banished forever.

And you know what? I’m thinking that even our Heavenly kitchens will feature glorious post-feast mess. So if you can find your sink today, go ahead and shine it. But if you can’t, don’t fret it. Revel instead in the present and eternal joy of the feast.

24 November 2010

"Acting more like children than children ..."

I came across this somewhere on Facebook a couple of days ago. I L-edOL, but really.

Not one of the CSPP has twins (which is really just another way of saying that not one of us has twins YET), but we're all familiar with that Questions and Statements game. Wow, do people ever love playing it.

17 November 2010


Did you know that there aren't any good maternity clothes? That everything affordable is too loose, too tight, too short, or too flummoxingly sexy for any self-respecting old pregnant lady to wear? Of course you knew this. Everyone knows this.

So I done took my problem by the bobbin and built myself a maternity skirt. Leah, you're an inspiration to us all. And it turns out the Internet is a sufficient sewing instructor. If anyone out there is interested in building herself a winter-ready maternity skirt, here are a couple of linked tutorials for you:

Make the skirt. I used an old pair of jeans that fit pre-pregnancy, but which were too high waisted for my pre-pregnancy tastes. For the skirt panels, I used a pair of Dad's old jeans, which he had long ago destroyed doing dad things. The tutorial to which I've linked here suggests putting in only a front panel, but I wanted more A-line, less pencil, so I added an extra-wide panel in the back.

Add a maternity panel. Each of us has a stretchy T-shirt languishing away in the back of her drawer. You know, from those days when we were confused and wore stretchy T-shirts? This sucker longs to be given a more respectable role in your wardrobe. Cut it up.

And then you're done. If you make the skirt long enough, it has enough gumption to keep out the cold. Wear a pair of those long socks Rebekah mentioned a post back, and you'll be happier than a denning polar bear. Without the sleep. So, maybe, not happier, but at least as warm.

The warming of legs

Three things happened recently.

1. I came to terms with the fact that my corduroys were too short and the baby hole in my jeans is starting to grow up.

2. I felt again a delusional urge to get beyond sewing flat square things.

3. My husband told me I looked cute in skirts.

And really, wouldn't 3. have been enough? :P

So it turns out skirts are easy to sew*, and you can find these extra long bolts of some kind of plain, heavy fabric at a reasonable price at Walmart. I am sure there is some explanation for their extra longness, but I'll leave that to the real sewing people to understand.

The trouble is that I hate being cold. Really hate it. I also hate tights or any other kind of sartorial crowding. This led me to do what any reasonable person would: I complained about it on somebody else's blog. And behold, the gentle hostess of that blog berated me not, but guided me to a warm place of wonderment, which sent me a pair of leg warmers--are you ready for this?--forty inches long! There wasn't even a shipping charge, but I'll leave that to the real leg warmer people to understand.

It was a false, misleading dream that these leg warmers would not fall down. But I did some surgery on an item facing retirement and I now have reliably warm legs with a tolerable amount of hiking during a day of normal use.

I've mentioned before how the skirt wars make my eyes glaze over, but that there's the story of how I landed on Team Skirt for the time being. I'm confident I'm the warmest member who isn't all bunched up around the middle.

Having gotten a size- and season- appropriate wardrobe figured out for the 34,792th time, I can only wonder if I'll soon have blessed occasion to grow out of it.

*ha ha ha ha ha

16 November 2010

Crazy like a Fritz

"Women with many children are in middle age much more beautiful than those who have few children and who owe this misfortune not to a hard blow of fate . . . ." Oscar Lezius, Lehre und Wehre, qtd. by John H.C. Fritz, Pastoral Theology

My husband maintains this is demonstrably true, but I'm disqualifying him on the basis of a conflict of interests.

15 November 2010

Soon and very soon

Dad's first call was to a church in the suburbs. There was a parsonage, but the senior pastor had dibs. We ended up living 20ish minutes away. Dad also had business that took him farther and wider. In the suburbs, this is no big deal, unless you're a neurotic housewife. Every morning he went, and I knew there was no chance of seeing him (or probably anyone) until the evening. Leaving out for the moment the two babies, those long and lonely days felt very much like my own.

Now the church is across the street and the church office is in the backyard. The town is small and the people are close. Dad often stops by the house several times a day to pick up and drop off and look for a treat. And the last thing I want him to find when he walks through unannounced is me chowing down the bread of idleness, thickly spread with the peanut butter of self-excuse.

All of this also puts me in mind that Dad isn't the only one who could show up any time. I'd love to talk more, but I have wicks to trim.

Who you callin' idle?

12 November 2010

How to iron small things

Ironing is something I avoid as much as possible. It's not that I hate it (I actually think it's among the more gratifying of household tasks), but that it combines poorly with the main thing I do all day: get interrupted. I don't trust myself to remember to turn off the iron every time someone comes around wanting me to quit what I'm doing, and I would really be kicking myself if the house burned down, and I'm not going to buy a new iron that shuts off automatically when I have a perfectly operational iron already. I also get nervous having that big heavy hot thing up high on something structurally unreliable with so many people around here who can't really walk (a condition which affects children much older than the inexperienced might guess, and their mothers).

But into every life a little ironing must fall, which introduces another problem: small clothes are hard to iron. Or they were until this very post! wherein I commend to occasional ironers of small clothes the small iron. This sweet thing is perfect for all the tiny collars and shoulders and sleeves your burly old girl from college crushes like so many cornflakes on fish night. It doesn't get as hot, but some work with the spray bottle will make up the difference. And if you've got one of those little tabletop ironing boards to go with your little dress and little iron, well, you've really got it made.

"Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with Garanimals?"

11 November 2010

Peace be within thy walls

To all: a blessed feast of St. Martin. A meditation from friend of CSPP, Rev. H.R. Curtis, via Lew Rockwell.

09 November 2010


Pain is isolating. It cannot be divided and shared, it cannot in its present moment be truly understood by even the most sympathetic friend. To bear it without complaint is a costly virtue, because what the sufferer craves most after relief is tenderness and compassion. To assume an appearance which belies suffering is to deny the depth of tender compassion longed for.

While we may denounce the selfishness which drives human flesh to avoid the gifts God would give, we children of dust are feeble as frail. The woman who feels she cannot have another child is likely not thinking first of her figure, her career, her cobwebby ski equipment. Those excuses are funny and easy because they are less intimate than the truth. She is likely thinking, I don't want to be sick any more. I don't want to be crazy any more. I don't want to get more broken. I CANNOT HURT any more.

Lord, have mercy on us daughters of Eve.

06 November 2010


The lord of the manor recently looked at me askance and demanded to know why I'm not pregnant yet. I directed his attention to the likely explanation, which was rolling around corpulently at our feet, and asked what brought on such criticism. He said, "Things have been going way too smoothly around here."

03 November 2010

"We can marvel at the strange miracle of our lingering love."

This is a beautiful post. Go read it.

02 November 2010

Music, recommended: Learn By Heart Bible Songs

I grew up listening to GT and the Halo Express on these weird plastic rectangles. Those little ditties had some staying power, and I have been grateful all my life for the way they implanted the Word in my brain. But I hesitated to pick them up for our kids because the Scripture memory songs are interspliced with narrative featuring goofy angels and Evangelical piety. I recently found that CPH has solved the problem for me with the Learn By Heart Bible Songs CD ($9.99) and Songbook (on sale for $14!). We've added it to our bedtime music repertoire. There are lots of good verses on there (including many of my GT favorites), and every song includes the reference. The singing is of the "Maranatha genetically-spliced" variety, which wears on the brain, but that's my only complaint. This would be a good resource for Sunday School or VBS, too.

01 November 2010

Lamech, you're so lame.

Oh, those awful patriarchs and kings. How could they have been so wrong? And their wives, their FIRST wives, their REAL wives--how could they stand it? Why did they stand it?

"Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah" (Gen 4:19). This is the first we hear of polygamy in the Bible. If one wife is good, two must be better; and Lamech's reasoning is found amenable for generations thereafter.

Interesting that God does not provide any editorial remark. Doesn't He think polygamy is bad? Well, yes. It's terrible. So terrible no one needs to say it's bad because every sane person knows. God also makes no comment on Lamech's bragging on his own malice and bloodlust a few verses down. We don't need to have it spelled out for us that Lamech's sins are sins.

But anyway, imagine Lamech's kids and neighbors. Meh, two wives. That's just how we do it in our tent, just how they do it next door. Not normal for everybody, but normal for Lamech. And what's normal for your dad or your neighbor, well, it's not that weird, right? Something you see every day isn't weird. Normal for Lamech and Adah and Zillah becomes normal for their sons, normal for their daughters, normal for their neighbors, just normal.

So Jacob: another week, another wife. David, a man after God's own heart, never gives us an indication that this polygamy business keeps him up at night for any good reason (neither does the practice solve his lust problem). Even tender Elkanah cannot imagine himself to be worth less to Hannah than ten sons, oblivious to having given her only half of himself. And if our main concern is that polygamy is bad for women, I wonder if 1000 lonely Ancient Near East guys might have some insights to offer wise Solomon.

What happens to polygamy? Exile, probably, and the poverty it brings. Roman occupation and law (thanks for that at least, nations). Once polygamy becomes abnormal again, its wrongness becomes self-evident to Christians. (Though our honored fathers can still trip us up.)

Polygamy: the sexual sin the people of God--good, pious, exemplary people of God--could not live without. Fornication, divorce and prostitution/pornography being roughly historically equal, can we possibly be so arrogant as to imagine that we have transcended this capacity for tremendous transgression, for unthinkable unchastity?

But don't worry, Protestants. As long as you're not a bishop (and what Protestant would be?) the Bible doesn't say you can't have two wives. As my favorite pastor told me, "At least polygamy is life-affirming."

27 October 2010

And what about the vegans?

Americans go to heaven.

for life's not a paragraph And death i think is no parenthesis

Came across the following quotation in today's Memorial Moment (a daily devotional written by Rev. Dr. Scott Murray of Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, Tex.), and thought it worth sharing here:

"But we should not be amazed, for the greater part of mankind is ignorant of the true love of wisdom ... It is as if a person did not know how to recognize the beauty of human bodies but attributed beauty to the clothes and the ornaments worn. Thus when he saw a handsome woman possessed of natural beauty, he would quickly pass by her, but when he beheld one who was ugly, ill shaped, and deformed, but clothed in beautiful garments, he would take her for his wife. So also in a similar way, the multitude is affected about virtue and vice. They are attracted to the one that is deformed by nature because of her external decorations, but turn away from the one that is fair and lovely, because her beauty is unadorned, for which reason they ought to choose especially her." --John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 29.8.

I don't know about y'all, but my vanity takes a major hit every time I get pregnant again. I think that when I was younger I might have glowed a little bit; these days, I look like a swollen, gimpy lizard.

But, hey, it's OK. Unadorned beauty is that by which a woman ought especially to be chosen. And, unlike Maybelline (and, please, what can even Maybelline do for me?), it's free.

So, limp on, limp on in majesty! In lowly pomp, limp on to birth! And have a nice day.

25 October 2010

Dorcas, Lydia, and Phoebe

All praise for faithful women,
Whose toilet bowls did squeak,
Who mastered the persimmon,
Who taught the babies Greek,
Who knew crochet from knitting,
Who wigged not out when stressed;
Let us raise props befitting,
Then get that cassock pressed.

You're next.

23 October 2010

Likewise, the building of a family

In case anyone didn’t see Bonhoeffer in today’s Treasury reading (on the building of the church):

“It is a great comfort which Christ give to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don’t ask for judgments. Don’t always be calculating what will happen. Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge!....Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.”

(No time for further comment right now, except to note that it seems like I’m always chewing on (ruminating, as it were) that don’t always be calculating what will happen morsel—can’t quite seem to just swallow it and be done with it).

22 October 2010

Or else

It’s such a relief not to know everything anymore.

Before I had my first baby, I knew pretty much everything there was to know about babies. (Considering that I’d always preferred dogsitting to babysitting, this was a particularly impressive credential.)

For instance, I knew that introducing a pacifier too early would interfere with breastfeeding, and that in fact my baby might be better off without one at all. (Which is why there was nary a nuk in the house at midnight when everyone besides the screaming two-week-old was interested in sleeping, so a family member had to be dispatched to obtain one at that rather inconvenient hour. Fast forward to babe-in-arms number four: we shoved the binky in her mouth while still in the hospital.)

I also knew that babies must be roused every few hours at night for the first few weeks, in order not to miss a feeding. (What?! You think anything could induce me now to waken a peacefully sleeping babe? And you mean that some newborns actually sleep for more than a couple hours at a time?!)

Wake that baby up! He's obviously starving!

No, I sure don’t know everything anymore. And I feel badly for all the parents-to-be and new parents who [think they] do. Navigating all that information for the first time is beyond overwhelming. It’s attachment parenting OR ELSE you’re callous and your child will be maladjusted. It’s strict scheduling OR ELSE your baby will never learn proper sleep patterns. It’s every vaccine, following the schedule exactly, OR ELSE your baby will get a deadly and/or disfiguring disease. It’s no vaccines/delayed vaccines, OR ELSE your kid will end up on the autism spectrum. Some people believe everything their doctor says and some believe next to nothing of what is purveyed by the traditional medical establishment.

Do I have opinions (and often supporting research) on these and other topics? You betcha. But they’re not held quite as tightly as they perhaps once were. Don’t get me wrong: I’m an objective-truth kind of person. And I know what I know—but I also know that most of what I know pertains to the particular baby whose head I’m looking over as I type this and/or to her brothers. We’ve all got to figure things out as best we can for our families, and so long as prayer and common sense figure high on the parenting priority list, the rest will get sorted out eventually. In the meantime, simply acknowledging that omniscience belongs only to One can lift a huge burden from a mom’s shoulders—and maybe make her a more pleasant companion amongst her circle of acquaintance, too. ;D

19 October 2010

Movie-ish thingie, recommended

Girls, the next time Dad is out tending his flocks by night, consider eating your stash of Lonely Time chocolates while viewing Babies, a newish short film which documents the babyhoods of four children from different parts of the world. I watched this thing days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Relatively free of socio-political commentary and completely sans stuffy British narrative, Babies presents a stark (albeit obviously edited) look into the parenting practices of people with whom I (and, presumably, many of our gentle readers) have little in common. And yet, while the subject matter is familiar, scant attention is given the annoying Pitocin drip of PSYCHOLOGY! we Americans have grown so used to enduring. Viewers aren’t subjected to lengthy interviews about the supposed benefits of tandem breastfeeding or boring discussions about a child’s cerebral responses to overstimulation. Rather, Babies is all about the babies—who naively become the consequences of their parents’ actions—and each viewer is given the freedom to formulate her own opinions on what’s working, what isn’t, and what, ultimately, doesn’t even matter.

So, while this film is heavy on the details, I won’t go into any and spoil the whole thing for you. Check it out, if you’re feeling like it (it’s available for instant play on Netflix, for those of you who subscribe). If nothing else, you’ll get to watch someone else deal with the poop for once.

N.B. As this movie is unabashed about letting all the poop, pee, breastfeeding, and baby parts hang out, I don’t think the dad/kid cordon will really get into it. I liked it because it talked my shop, you know? Poop. It’s on my business card.

18 October 2010

Savior, when in dust to Thee

Women and mothers: we are our own worst critics. Living with ourselves all day and all night, often deprived of the company of rational adults who might function as buffers, or at least moderators of our excesses, we have ample opportunity to display and to deplore our vices—and to see our failings reflected in the child-mirrors that are before us all the day.

The seriousness of this sin cannot be dismissed. These are no mere mistakes, nor simple moments of weakness, nor unfortunate confluences of events beyond our control. My sin is my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault. Most grievous!

Darkly alone amid the children’s clamoring, a woman can begin to feel lost in the cyclical grievousness of her own faults. Resolutions once made are broken a moment later by an impatient word, an angry glance, a downward spiral of despair. Confession itself can begin to seem a dreaded burden when the very selfsame sins comprise the list time after time, not even bothering to disguise themselves or to affect a more creative flair, but parading brazenly through in the same old rags, week after week. A woman’s heart grows heavy, and her words weary of reprising the tiresome theme.

But! Confession is an important word, a crucial word, a daily word—but not the last word. No, the last word is not confession, nor is it “just try harder…or at least sin a bit more creatively so that it seems like you’re getting somewhere.” The last word is sweet, sweet absolution. No matter how spectacularly awful or tiresomely trivial the offense, grace has the last word—if only we can shut our mouths and still our hearts long enough to hear it.

“Your sins are forgiven. Christ has made you whole.” Depart the confessional (whether that of a father confessor, of corporate confession, or of two minutes’ sobbing in the bathroom), go in peace, and sin no more. God’s mercies are new every morning—every hour—every moment.

Dwell in the exhilarating deluge of Baptism. Feast on His forgiveness. Pass the grace, please, and hold out your hands to receive a lavish portion as it goes by.

15 October 2010

Esolen or else

The Internet belches forth no end of dreck, but I think most of us have a person or two whose contemporary writing incites a private happy dance. Aside from people I actually know, whose thoughts therefore interest me and whose family photos bring me joy, a guy who gets me happy dancing in my own dour and humorless way is Anthony Esolen. He's at Touchstone and the Mere Comments blog, he was a guest on Issues, Etc. recently, and he turns up other places too. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about him is that he's an English professor who doesn't run away crying if you say some numbers in front of him. Get your ears on some Esolen, the man is good. Here's an article my brother-in-law sent me on being a Woman of Leisure:
But what is this life for, after all? . . . . It is not the vale of body building, or of career crafting, or of job enhancement, but of soul making, and if we take the lessons of our faith seriously, that can only be by humility, opening ourselves up to the beauty and wonder of the world, and deigning to love those most beautiful and wondrous creatures, our fellow human beings. Certainly we can do that in our work -- I am not saying that any arena of human endeavor is shut off from grace. But let us beware. The tendrils of work for work's sake and of self for self's sake have long been maddeningly entwined.
Sweet, Esolen posted again.

14 October 2010

Mutiny on the Bounty

Terrible title. Gives away everything. I propose Breadfruit on the Bounty.

13 October 2010

Hard to swallow

"It was as if, every month of that former life, I had walked into an abortion clinic and said, 'I’m probably not pregnant, but if I did conceive, take care of it,'" Mrs. Kevin Golden writes in the current issue of the Missouri Lutherans For Life newsletter.

I am not a scientist. When I read something about how a particular drug works, I can't assess the scientific accuracy of that statement. But any lay person can consider the implications of scientific statement and make a personal decision about potential risks.

7.5 years ago I had my life overhauled by Randy Alcorn's booklet "Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?". Not everyone agrees with the case Alcorn makes. But there is evidence that the birth control pill can cause abortions. I speak not as a scientist but as a Christian when I say that the pill is not a risk married (or fornicating) Christians can be willing to take. This is not a statement about contraception, but about hormonal contraceptives (pills, rings, patches, IUDs, etc.). Don't want to get pregnant and don't buy the anti-contraception business? That's an argument for another day. This post's argument is that non-abstinent Christians cannot take the pill. A scientific ambiguity with implications for morality (and morality here means human mortality) requires Christians to err on the side of caution. There are other ways to engage in intercourse and avoid its results.

Thank you, Missouri Lutherans For Life, for publishing Mrs. Golden's candid article, and Joy, thank shrew. I mean you.

12 October 2010

"Be thankful for what you have, Lucille."

Good times at the second annual CSPP conference. Seven moms, 16 shockingly dirty kids (and three in absentia and three in utero who whose dirtiness cannot be spoken to), two generous babysitters (they wouldn't let me pay them so I'm mailing it to their mothers), and one very dear guest speaker whose willingness to share so much of herself with some crazy strangers was deeply appreciated. Her advice to her former self gives this post its title, so anyone whose name isn't Lucille can make the appropriate substitution and gain the benefit her years have led her to perceive in it. Who knows, maybe in a few more years there will be a third annual CSPP conference (or find a Lucille in your locale and host your own!).

06 October 2010

Usage you can use: RSVP

RSVP, as one may learn in Paddington Takes the Air, stands for the French expression "répondez, s'il vous plaît", meaning "please reply." This means that it is redundant to say "Please RSVP."

Incorrect: Cocktails at my house Friday at 8. Please RSVP.
(In fact cocktails are always served at my house on Friday at 3, and I already said please.)

Correct. CSPP conference on Monday the 11th. RSVP.
(In fact there is a conference and if you're coming we'd like to reserve you a spot, so let us know. While we're on the topic, let me mention again that this is mostly a glorified playdate for any mom and kids who otherwise plan to be bored that day. I will not be counting children and making personal judgments on the basis of my accounting on that day. Or any day, as I have attempted many times to explain.)

Five innocent words that strike terror into the heart of every boy mom

"Hey Mom, look at me!"

(Boy Motto)

The more exuberant the shout, the more inevitable the ER trip.

04 October 2010

In defense of Captain Underpants

JK! Of course you’re right: even if I were so inclined, I could find absolutely nothing to offer in defense of Captain Underpants and his ilk. I’m as tired as the next guy of the cheery and/or winking and/or resigned expression of “Well, at least they’re reading!”

I’m really sorry that it even had to be said, but since it did, I’m glad that someone took advantage of a public venue to say it: “One obvious problem with the SweetFarts philosophy of education is that it is more suited to producing a generation of barbarians and morons than to raising the sort of men who make good husbands, fathers, and professionals. If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn’t go very far.”

Thank you, Mr. Spence, and for your good work I may even forgive you another of your comments: “Who knows—a boy deprived of electronic stimulation might even become desperate enough to read Jane Austen.” :D

(HT: My kids’ grandparents, who know quite well that the last thing boys need is official sanctioning of bathroom humor.)

03 October 2010

That counts. No, really.

I recently received a copy of Lutheranism 101 on account of having a kicked out a few pages thereof. My own few pages aren't of much interest outside of the fact that I can now say very literally that I wrote, well, not quite the book, but a good part of the chapter on repentance. Plenty of expertise there. :P

Anyway, that's not what I sat myself down here to jabber about. What caught my eye when I flipped through was, predictably, chapter 14, "What About Women?" As I've mentioned here, I am of the persuasion that Our Beloved Synod has not handled the woman problem (and we are always a problem, aren't we? :D ) too well. By reason of fear (and more recently, I think, a resulting theological sciolism) and means of attrition the LCMS has really sold out to the world in this department.

So what does Lutheranism 101 say about women? That's right, the same old lame stuff. "The highest honor ever given to any human being was a given to a woman" and "The influence that Christian mothers and teachers have upon the spiritual development of children and youth is enormous." Bo-ring.

But that's just it, isn't it? What the Synodical Powers mean by approving this is for publication with the coveted CPH logo is: that counts. It counts that the Savior of the world was born of woman. It counts that women bear and raise children. All that pain, all that fear, all that loneliness, all that scorn, all that frustration, all that doubt, all that invisibleness, all that bo-ring: it counts. It is good. It is enough. It is respectable and admirable. It is blessed. It is faithful. It is the life and work to which women have been specially appointed. It is a gift twice over: to give and nurture life, and thereby to assiduously cultivate that profoundest and most painful virtue, humility. It is pleasing to God and as such should be pleasing to man.

Then after that is some blather about chicks who wrote hymns. So someone over there on Jefferson Ave. still hasn't gotten the "And what else are you doing?" question out of his or her system yet (Reb. Mary posted on this once but now I can't find it--bother). OK, whatev. The point is, if the "Mary" and "motherhood" answers sound like they don't count, like they aren't good enough, like they don't deserve the respect granted to other pursuits, it is because they are falling on ears tuned too much to the world. The fact that our little corner of Christendom still gives them top billing is a good sign.

30 September 2010

I blunder as I launder

Laundry ex opere operato is not a huge problem here. It doesn't bug me much and I don't often get egregiously behind.

But there's also something about laundry that makes me know I have not given myself over to it completely; namely, that the clothes don't get clean. Sure, there's some overloading of machines involved, and some inattention to major soilings whether at the "You cannot wear that one more day put it in your basket!!" stage or later on at the "It's all going in now and together and that's the end of it" moment of pragmatic triage. I superstitiously believe the washing machine will and must get things clean, though I know not how. If something comes out gummy or muddy, I throw it back into the dirty clothes heap like a madwoman. Dirty stuff goes in the laundry. Stuff that comes out of the laundry dirty goes in the laundry. Then at the end of the summer, I realize that my four year old no longer has a single clean shirt.

Even knowing this, I am lost. A sponsorless neophyte, I have amassed an arsenal of old timey powders and new fangled elixirs. They judge me from their shelves as I purposefully cram wadded boulders of clothing into the machine. But which of you am I supposed to be using right now? They never answer outright, but drip into my insecurity receptors cruel hisses like, All of us for different things, you imbecile! And why haven't you bought any Biz yet? Sssssssssssss!

My experimentation so far has yielded a few results. First, sunshine will take out yellow problems on the southern end of a baby garment but not the northern end (or much else. Sunshine gets way more credit than it deserves). Second, bleach expires. Third, the Shout stuff with the bristly applicator can buy some time for a garment nearing devotion to the ban on account of stank. Fourth, I cannot keep up with the nosebleeds around here and therefore all linens should be dark colors. Fifth, there is absolutely no telling which load had a fortifying scoop of Borax or Oxyclean or baking soda or chitin meal or nothing in it, because nothing works.

Somewhere deep in my brain is an inchoate vision. Through the fog, it looks something like another system, another rule, another basket . . . I can see humanoid forms tossing in their particularly troubled shirts . . . a larger humanoid picking up the basket and analyzing each piece, treating it with the tonic and therapy relevant to its ailment. Later, as she shakes out and folds each item, this large humanoid smiles, gratified at having achieved the level of huswifery which yields such a satisfyingly clean load of laundry; which saves disturbed clothes from ruination; at never having to say, "It's a perfectly fine shirt except for being completely disgusting." Yes, this would totally work, like all the systems and rules around here . . . .

But for now, my shoulders and front bear the marks of the baby of the house even before he begins the day's business, and the cuffs of Dad's tough guy pants are crusted as befits toughness, and my four year old wears at this and every moment a dirty shirt.

27 September 2010

Book, recommended: The Eternal Woman

I'm not actually reviewing this book because I have a problem with writing ridiculously long book reviews, and this one would end up being longer than almost anything I've ever written. All I'm going to say is that any Christian person would benefit from reading The Eternal Woman by Gertrud von le Fort.

The Church's view of women was one of many things the Reformation did not seek to change. The Lutheran Confessions didn't have to have an article on women's ordination (WT . . . heck?) or address complementarianism or give an encouraging shout out to all the pregnant ladies. There simply wasn't a question of such things. But now there are many questions of such things, with the unfortunate effect that it nearly always comes off as boorish to give the ladies a friendly reminder of their blessed place (see?). In the introduction to The Eternal Woman, Alice von Hildebrand writes, "there are questions raised only when a person has adopted a wrong metaphysical posture." Good posture takes off ten pounds, so this book is worth the investment right there. Head up and shoulders back, girls: the Church is the only place that has ever respected women.

Fair warning: Gertrud von le Fort was a Roman Catholic, and her thesis pivots on RC Marian dogma. Then again, followers of the Pope generally have a more reliable metaphysical posture than other folks, and if what's dogma to them is an open question to us maybe we'd do well to learn what a good question sounds like. Gertrud von Fort was also a German and an intellectual and writes like one of each with a side of having been born in 1876 when schools still educated, so add one of Amazon's prettiest thinking caps to the cart and qualify the order for free shipping.

(Thanks again to Monique, who sent me my copy. Also, someone once sent me a video of one of those skinny chick inspirational speakers who had a riff about building cathedrals, which I now cannot find. Anyway, that skinny chick sounded an awful lot like page 50.)

The Woman may be eternal, but the book's only 108 pages.

24 September 2010


"If the sign of the woman is 'Be it done unto me', which means the readiness to conceive or, when expressed religiously, the will to be blessed, then there is always misery when the woman no longer wills to conceive, no longer desires to be blessed."

from The Eternal Woman by Gertrud von le Fort

23 September 2010

"An inordinate fondness for beetles"

As we all know, breast milk is a magical substance which can dissolve goiters, sharpen pencils, clean up oil spills, and grow absolutely anyone a head of curly blond hair. Today's news brought us more evidence of its unfathomable powers:

Abbott Laboratories said Wednesday that it has issued a recall of approximately 5 million cans of certain Similac-brand powdered infant formula due to the possibility of the presence of a beetle . . . . The FDA said that this type of beetle, if ingested, could cause discomfort and irritate the gastrointestinal tract, causing the infant to lose appetite.

I have witnessed first hand evidence proving that a breastfed infant is perfectly capable of digesting a beetle with no discomfort, irritation, or loss of appetite whatever. So, mothers of the world, if you don't want your baby set back by such trifles as the intraintestinal beetle, breastfeed.

20 September 2010

Fountain of youth

I know 60 is the new 20 or something like that, but there's also a cultural inclination to start "feeling old" in one's fourth decade of life. I think this is when we're supposed to start worrying about wrinkles and gray hair and whatever other horrible things are out there in Oldlandia.

Well, I don't feel old. This here decade appears more than adequately longitudinous, and the one after that (DV) is . . . well, we just don't talk about that. Wrinkles and gray hairs are the least of my worries*. I feel young, young, young.

No wrinkles here!

*However, I spoke with a friend who, finding herself pregnant in the unspeakable decade, was unable to find suitable maternity clothes. Where, she wanted to know, were the maternity clothes for grandmas?

18 September 2010


Notice to area hunters: If you see what initially appears to be a doe wearing unusually plaid maternity clothes in the vicinity of your mineral traps, please do not shoot her. Just throw her a family-sized bag of potato chips and holler for her to head on home. If she does not bolt right away, it is because she is trying to force delicious saltiness into her mouth past the 13 pieces of gum already wadded in there. Maybe wave your arms around a little while singing some old Bryan Adams tunes, and you’ll frighten her off.

This shameful creature apologizes in advance for being so pesky, but she really can’t help herself.

Somebody save me.

15 September 2010

Me talk pretty one day, too

I’m not going to lie to you: this pregnancy has been my hardest yet. There were a couple of weeks in there where I wondered seriously if I might shrivel up and die.

But that’s all behind me now, thank God. New and different hardships lie on the horizon, and you know that I’m bursting with excitement to meet them. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying all the attention my (weirdly huge) bump is attracting.

Though this attention is not quite what you might think. While many people are being very kind to us about the existence of a new small person in our family, many people are also, like, “Five kids are so ‘yawn,’ dude. When you get to 19, give us a ring.” No, the attention I’m appreciating is far more favorable than the belly rubs and horror stories of bygone days, and far less jarring than the gawks and misguided criticisms of the birth control crowd. With this pregnancy, we’ve garnered the consideration of a generation of people for whom birth control consisted of something involving Epsom and somersaults—which is to say, a generation of people who birthed and raised lots of babies, and lived to tell about it.

And tell about it they do. Oh, girls, the stories we’ve started hearing! There’s the dear, sweet shut-in, a mother of eight, who told us a tale of raising her children alone during the work week while her husband traveled with the railroad. She recalls being terribly ill (and before the days of Zofran!), throwing up all day long, throwing up in the sink over her right arm while her left arm stirred the pot that bubbled with that night’s supper. Most amazingly, she recalled this and other stories with a giggle; her memories tickled her in the telling.

And there are the grown children from a family of nine who told us of the many unconventional meals they were served when they were young. Their father was a farmer, and poor; their mother made their home and their clothes. They couldn’t afford beef, so they ate the squirrels, opossums, and coons their father or brothers shot in the woods behind their house. (Coon was the finest, they claimed.) These grown children didn’t feed such critters to their own children, but neither did they snarl at the memory of having eaten such wild fare. Rather, they laughed and smiled warmly at one another and tumbled into their shared childhood all over again.

And my family received a gift in the hearing.

On Sunday mornings, as my belly grows almost before my eyes and I manage the pew-pent energies of my other four children, the older ladies of my husband’s congregation watch with sympathetic smiles. Then, after the Benediction, they quietly approach to offer me their histories, those most beautifully adorned crutches of support. The tales these dear ladies tell differ sharply from the “they grow up so fast” platitudes that I’ve heretofore wondered about. These tales are an unselfish giving of hope, for these elderly mothers of many know very well that I am suffering now only to receive later a joy similar to that which they have received.

I accept their stories gladly, hungrily, not so much for the commiseration, but for the laughter that comes with the telling. That laughter is the final piece of punctuation on lives filled with the giving of life, and it buoys me up. I leave such conversations feeling soothed and better able to stand above the melee that is my sinful flesh to laugh even now at the cross I am, by the grace of God, bearing.

Sisters have walked this path before. I can walk it behind them. Thanks be to Christ for working in us the strength to love our neighbors as ourselves. I hope that one day I may share a scrap of laughter with one of your daughters, dear reader, and that you may do the same for one of mine.

CORRECTION: My husband read through this and informed me that I got a fact wrong. The family that ate varmint contains 15 grown children, not nine. Sorry about that, folks. You'd think I'd be able to remember something as remarkable as 15 kids, but it's easy to get tripped up in my own brain.

14 September 2010

Shows what you know

Thought it was TV, did ya? Thought it was school that ruined families? Thought it was living far from grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins? Thought it was chicken nuggets and polyester clothes made in China? Thought it was Sunday morning youth soccer? Thought it was birth control and no-fault divorce and Anabaptist praise songs?

You're wrong! It's houses! Quick, save your family! Move out of your house before it's too late! (Becoming a band of troubadours is, I believe, optional.)

O foolish Robinsons, who hath bewitched you?

13 September 2010

In a perfect world

I wish my washing machine looked more like a robot.

10 September 2010

We're fine, thanks

We here at CSPP love everybody, especially you, and that's why this post and its comments have gone away. A good tree bears good fruit and this just wasn't bearing anything good. I am sorry.

Anonyfolk of the world, my other concern regarding anonymity besides the one I attempted to explain is that if things go south I have no way of tracking you down and trying to make things right. To everyone who got snagged in this sordid web of comments, again, I am sorry.

Inquiries, concerns, complaints, and jokes may be directed to the CSPP inbox. Sigh.

09 September 2010


Well, blog, I took three ticks off two kids this morning and there's no one here to appreciate it but you.

03 September 2010

The best defense is a good offense

From this article in Touchstone: ". . . immerse your child in the worship of the Church and every other activity that can shape his imagination as Christian because he acts it out. The greatest prophylactic against cultural infection is not a shield but his love for something better and greater and more heroic."

Attempting to isolate our children from every evil influence leads eventually--or quickly--to panic. If they don't go to school, there are "school kids" at Sunday school and VBS. If we forbid Judy Blume we're left to figure out what to do with Ramona (and what about all that "obey" business in These Happy Golden Years?) We can choose our children's friends, or choose that they not have any, but we can't choose their cousins.

We can't just tell them, "That's trash. We don't read those books. Cartoons are for the masses. Parades are for Americans. The kid across the street is vulgar. Pudding cups are poison. Tryphosa dresses like a trollop, and does not nature itself teach us that Aristarchus needs a haircut?" I mean, sure, we tell them those things. But that's just to impress ourselves. Those statements provide children no nourishment. It is far more important to actively cultivate in them virtuous habits, good tastes, and noble interests.

A child who is fed primarily on contrarianism will become either rebellious or a hollow parody devoid of character. I'm inclined to think the latter is worse--the child who rebels to break out of an artificially insular world at least shows initiative and concern for substance. Isolationism is a losing battle anyway: even if they never leave our houses, children are born full of the world, naturally embracing trinkets and SnakPaks and jingles and sulking.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty, and that is what they need know on earth. Those who know and love and hunger for what is true are much harder to deceive. If our kids can't eat pudding cups--and they certainly can't--they are left ravenous and resentful if we stop at denying them. They must be given something much better. It will take a lot longer to make.

02 September 2010

More for the CSPP playlist

31 August 2010

So there.

I've smelled some smelly smells in my day, but I don't know if anything beats a rotten potato.

30 August 2010


OK, Anonymous from way back when who asked about women's suffrage. If you're even still reading, you'll have to forgive me. It takes me a REALLY LONG TIME to think about something. And to talk to everyone I want to talk to about it. And to decide how I'd put it. And then to type it up. And then to let it sit in my drafts while I think about it some more. And then revise and revise and revise. And then run it by my idiocy checker. And then let it sit in my drafts for a few more months. And then . . . . . . . . . . post.

Now, the Voters' Assembly as we have it in the LCMS today is a made up thing and Americanish and mostly silly. And that's why I've never been too clear on how to respond to the suffrage question because the Bible doesn't say, "Women shouldn't go to (or speak at or vote at) voter's meetings every first Monday of every other month at seven of the clock post meridiem." Suffrage is simply not in Scripture. All I could say was, I don't go and I wouldn't.

But now that I've done the thinking and the talking I'm doing the typing (and maybe even the posting). Here's what I turned up that was helpful. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is about congregational order. To keep order, we do things the Christian ordered way, that is, with men heading families as icons of Christ our Head. At home, the buck stops with Dad. He catechizes and calls the shots because God told him to, which means it's on his head if those things are done poorly.

Family is a microcosm of the local parish. The congregation is a family. So when the family units gather as a greater congregational family, the heads do the heading. They listen, they discuss, they decide what would be best not for themselves individually but for their family. If Mom is concerned about something, she can talk to Dad about it in the mutual love and patience of their own relationship, and he will weigh her concern like he always does, and make the best decision he can see. Mom trusts Dad to represent and care for their family wisely and selflessly at church just as he does at home.

Might I ask why the heck this post so long?

OK, but the hard cases: the moms without dadly care back at our control group, the microcosm, the family. Sometimes families get messed up. They don't have Dad at the head. Mom has to step up. It's not OK, but it happens. Although she is Acting Head, she is not a true Head. We can also factor in at this point the virgins and the widows.

Well, at church we're not so micro. There are numerous heads because there are numerous families, which means: that woman who has to step up at home doesn't have to step up at church. At home she doesn't have anyone to provide for her and protect her and in whom she can put her earthly trust. But at church she does. She has every other Dad looking out for her. She can take a load off and not worry about this world's cares for once in her life (just like the virgins and the widows and the abandoned did in Luther's day and Walther's day and every other day until 1969). If she's concerned about something at the parish, she can do what she can't do at home: take her concern to a man whom she trusts, and trust him to weigh her concern regarding the parish and make the best decision he can see. A woman whose husband or father has failed her is not as a result also failed by her parish family. At church she has the comfort only a woman has the benefit of enjoying, even when she has been robbed of that comfort at home.

Will the men of her church family fail her sometimes? Yup. In some parishes, it might be pretty often or pretty serious. But just as in a family, this is not license for Mom to push back and commandeer. In those hard, terrible cases of unfaithfulness, abuse, or abandonment, it is license for her to leave.

Why are we consummate Americans asking this Voters' Assembly question? Is it because we are concerned about our rights and having our voices heard? Because that's not how Christians think. The way Christians think is, in charity and humility, "My fathers and brothers have my best interests in mind. I know I can trust them because they kneel with me at our Lord's altar every week." It means that sometimes we live with the mistakes of others, even as they live with our mistakes. It also means that sometimes we learn that someone else really did know better, or that something didn't matter as much as we felt it did.

Here's the real money line I got from my favorite consultant: women voting in the Voters' Assembly is as disordered as mothers working outside the home. It's got a lot of problems. There are costs built into it, including a greater danger of slippery slopism into other disorders than in homes where it doesn't happen. But it's pretty far from the worst thing in the world. Every sane person understands that, and Christian charity guides us to put the best construction on any particular case of it happening.

But if it doesn't have to happen--why make it happen? And in the church, it just doesn't have to happen. So I don't go, and I wouldn't, even if I weren't the pastor's wife, even at a parish that "allowed" it. Not because it's wrong for me to go, but because I think it gives a better testimony to God's ordering of human life if I don't. I think it communicates trust and humility and the otherness of the family of God if I say of my parish family, "The dads/husbands will take care of us," even as I am blessed to be able to say that at home.

I don't think women who participate in Voters' Assemblies are bad people. I do think this is a very muddled topic for the American mind, which is steeped in the language of rights, individualism, populism, and feminism, and for the legalistic Protestant mind which thinks in terms of strict chapter and verse permission or prohibition rather than Christian prudence. I am not on a campaign to end women's suffrage by Synodical resolution, that most powerful catholic force, any more than I'm on a campaign to get people to eat more spinach. But I do think in my own private mind that eating spinach is good for most people, and I eat it myself, and if someone asked for my opinion on spinach I'd say I'm for it.

27 August 2010

Usage you can use: -igamy

Bigamy is having a second wife at the same time as a first wife.

ex. After hanging around with a lot of really nice people in Utah, he became a bigamist.

Digamy is having a second wife after having lost a first wife (through death or divorce).

ex. After a lot of court dates, awkward dates, and finally good dates, he became a digamist.

I've heard the term "serial monogamy" used to indicate digamy+, but I think I like digamy better. As a usage, obviously. Then again, trigamy appears less clear so maybe it won't work.

26 August 2010

My brain hurts

I actually have to plan when I'm going to think about things. Supper tomorrow: while driving to store. School thing: on walk to Post Office. Other school thing: while up with baby at night. School thing number 84: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Christmas stuff: next mending session. Everybody's clothes for wedding: while hanging laundry. Schwat I'm in danger of totally botching due to not having thought about: right now.

23 August 2010

Got luggage?

Thus wrote F.W. Boreham:

"It is part of the pathos of mortality that we only discover how dearly we love things after we have lost them…

"So is it with the lading and luggage of life. We never wake up to the delicious luxury of being heavily burdened until our shoulders miss the load that galled them. If we grasped the deepest philosophy of life a little more clearly we might perhaps fall in love with our luggage…

"Our load is as essential to us as our lunch… At any rate, it is clear that man owes as much to his luggage as a ship owes to her keel. It seems absurd to build her delicately, and then burden her dreadfully. But the sailor loves the heavy keel and the full freight. It is the light keel and the empty hold that have most reason to dread the storm. Blessed be ballast! is a beatitude of the forecastle.

"Such is the law of life's luggage. But the New Testament gives us a still loftier and lovelier word: 'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.' And these laws the law of nature and the law of Christ are not conflicting, but concordant. The one is the bud, the other is the blossom. For Christ came, not to remove life's luggage, but to multiply our burdens. It is true, of course, that He said : 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,' but He only invited them that He might offer them His yoke and His burden.

"Here is something worth thinking about. Christ gives rest to the heart by giving burdens to the shoulders. And, as a matter of fact, it is in being burdened that we usually find rest. The Old Testament records the sage words of an old woman in addressing two younger ones: 'The Lord grant’ said Naomi, 'that ye may find rest, each of you, in the house of her husband!'

"Who ever heard of a woman finding rest in the house of her husband? And yet, and yet! The restless hearts are not the hearts of wives and of mothers, as many a lonely woman knows. There is no more crushing load than the load of a loveless life. It is a burden that is often beautifully and graciously borne, but its weight is a very real one. The mother may have a bent form, a furrowed brow, and worn, thin hands; but her heart found its rest for all that. Naomi was an old woman; she knew the world very well, and her words are worth weighing.

"Heavy luggage is Christ's strange cure for weary hearts."

Recommended reading

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever got was that any book written before the 1950s is OK for your kids to read without your previewing it. Anything after that may have problematic content (there's some historical reason for this I can't remember; decency laws or something). This isn't just for big kid books. I can't remember how many picture books we've brought home from the library that I ended up hiding for the rest of the week. Here's a great article on how children's books have changed to justify and laugh at what would have been considered bad behavior in ages past. I got a kick out of Frances being contrasted with Olivia--my grandma never approved of Frances. She put the bad in Badger back in those innocent 80s.

Olivia, in our house children don't talk to adults that way.

21 August 2010

Stop me if you've heard this one ...

Folks, I’m running a bit too low on electrolytes to get jiggy with the fanfare, so I’m just going to out and say this: Gravida sum. EDD: Feb. something-or-other.

Rock on.
Hey, kid, boogety too!

20 August 2010

It's getting harder and harder to remember...

...but I'm pretty sure that there was a time in my life when the centerpieces on my kitchen table weren't composed entirely of amphibians and invertebrates.

Hey lady, are you gonna eat that cricket?

Second Annual CSPP Conference

It's been over two years since our last annual conference, so it's about time we scheduled another. To that end, the Second Annual CSPP Conference will be held concurrently with but not at all in the same place as day 2 of the Gottesdienst 15th Annual Oktoberfest. That's Monday, October 11 (and Gottesdienst is having Scaer, so it's worth your dude's time). The CSPP conference will be held at the Trinity Center of Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School in Worden, IL. Don't worry, homeschoolers, there's no corrupting school that day. JK! Love you girls! :D

Unlike the other one, this will be sort of a real conference, by which I mean we sort of planned something. The basic outline is get here when you can and hang out. Kids play, moms confer (we're hoping for good weather so most of this can occur outside at the Old Timey Playground of Deadliness). Bring picnickings for your crew.

After lunch, and this is the cool part, we'll have a live interview and Q&A with a humble and gracious lady* who happens to be the mother of nine kids who all, get this, turned out OK. Babysitting for older children will be provided on immediate premises while we take in Mrs. F's wisdom for an hour or so (Babes in arms, tots up in arms, and any kids who want to listen or don't like other kids are welcome to skip the babysitting. If they could be kept something like quiet so people can hear our soft-spoken honored guest, that would be great. I anticipate being out in the hall the whole time wishing my kid would be quiet.)

This will be followed by more hanging out. If you stay too long Gauntlets and I will start acting rude to you. Actually we won't because it turns out neither of us are good at it in person, so it's really up to you to do the right thing. (We're still twisting Reb. Mary's arm about getting here too--no promises.) You'll be able to make it back to Kewanee in time for supper with dad.

RSVP to CSPP inbox with number who will attend and names and ages of children. There is no conference fee, but I'll put out a dirty cereal bowl if you want to toss in a few farthings toward the babysitters and facility. Formal midwifery services will not be available if you're thinking about traveling large, although I'm sure any of the adults and many of the children present would make a fine doula. You will also probably be put to work at some point in the day, and there will be crying and poop and stuff and it will be a big pain in the neck, so choose wisely.

If you're lucky, and if he's not going to Gottesdienst himself, you might spot a local celebrity running around the neighborhood in goofy shoes and no shirt.

*Prayers for the good health of this humble and gracious lady and her husband would not be amiss!

17 August 2010

Let's keep in mind

All we who are not primary researchers arrive at our decisions regarding what is safest, healthiest, and best on the basis of someone else's authority.

There is always an opposing view with research to support it, and always a question of whether the prevailing opinion prevails because it is conventional or because it is right.

To depart from the majority position is merely to exchange one form of credulity for another.

15 August 2010


Thanks to Kelly for these fine words of which I was reminded on this Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"One mother, one alone, did what was good
In worshipping the baby born to her"

14 August 2010

Three keys

From Starck's Motherhood Prayers:

"God has reserved for Himself three keys: the key to the grave, for nobody except God can raise the dead; the key that unlocks the rain in the clouds, for no false god can give rain, and no human being can cause rain; and the key to the womb, which nobody can open when the Lord has locked it, nor lock when the Lord opens it."

12 August 2010

I love a parade

I respectfully disagree with the decision to invite deaconesses to process at the service for the installation of Synodical officers for the following reasons:

1. The purpose of a processional is to facilitate the Divine Service; more circumstantial than pompous. Those who process do so for the purpose of carrying an object necessary to the service or because they will be performing some function in the service. Surely we do not have so many thuribles as to require a throng of deaconesses to bear them (particularly when every pastor of Synod has also been invited to process via the official invitation appropos of an installation, and no gentleman would ask a lady to carry something when his hands are free). As to performing a function, the function of a deaconess in a public worship service is the same as any other lay person: to receive the gifts of God offered by His called and ordained servants.

2. To single out deaconesses is arbitrary. It suggests some heirarchy among Commissioned Ministers. Why were teachers, DCEs, DCOs, and other CMs excluded? Whereas deaconesses are a subset not only of CMs but also laity, why not bricklayers, bean counters, bus drivers, or (as a caller to my house recently suggested) pregnant ladies? Or perhaps the deaconesses were selected to represent -esses, in which case waitresses, actresses, stewardesses, or blogresses could have been just as appropriately invited. Anyway, it's confusing and invites animosity.

In puzzling over this strange matter, I was informed that there are certain quarters which think President Elect Harrison does not value women highly enough and this move was intended to disprove that. Again, respectfully, I believe there is a better way to refute this absurd accusation. While the invitation is clearly intended as an honor, it is in the end tokenistic since the deaconesses do not have an official role in the service and therefore no proper place in the processional. Tokenism always brings the credibility of the token into doubt. But the Church can do better, for no one knows better than we the true value of every child of God and therefore has less need for cosmetic posturing.

The deaconesses would do well to say, "Thank you, Pastor Harrison. We know what you mean, and we appreciate it, and we know this is the kind of thing the world eats up. But you know us; we're much more comfortable in the highways, hedges, hospitals, and homes. What is our want, anyway? We want to serve. Whom do we want to serve? Well, the Lord's wretched and poor will probably be thirsty after that long service, so why don't we have some drinks ready outside afterwards? We'll be able to save our financially floundering Synod the cost of the wait staff and demonstrate the humble service for which Loehe saw a need in the church and world and fostered the development of the deaconess as we know her today. That's so Dorcas!" Or something like that. I'm sure any deaconess, as a licensed servologist, could come up with an even better idea.

And President Elect Harrison, if he is truly interested in serving the women of our church and world (which I believe he is) could inaugurate this task by doing something the LCMS (and the C there is for Chicken) has failed to do. He could apply his skills of scholarship and writing to a clear, unequivocal, Scriptural statement (not to say encyclical) of what women are given to do at home, church, and world; in celibacy, marriage (addressing both maternity and infertility), and widowhood*. He could reframe our discussion of women's service into an explicit confession of what women are positively given to do instead of a negative campaign against women's ordination.

Such a statement could render the benefit of cutting into the "how far is too far" games currently being played in our church body which are effectively turning the LCMS into a technical virgin. Such a statement could help make the LCMS the place where women are valued for what they do naturally, rather than narrowly frowned at about what they cannot (which merely provokes more mischief) or transmogrified into imitation dudes. And such a place as that could make a woman happy to say, "Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord. Let's rock the cradle roll!"

*For all the feminist readers of this blog, of whom I'm sure there are scads: why are women being considered only according to their marital/reproductive status? Because when God tells Adam and Eve "Be fruitful and multiply," He's giving Eve instructions very different from those He's giving Adam. That's just how Christians roll; thanks for asking! :)

10 August 2010

When life gives you caterpillars

They will make frass. Loads and loads of it. Unbelievable quantities of it. You will mutter to yourself, How can three little caterpillars possibly produce so much frass? You will have to clear it out, every single day.*

And you will have to feed them, from the herbs you were intending for another purpose, every single day. You will grumble, How can three little caterpillars possibly eat so much? And why do I feed them, when it just turns into frass that I must then clean?

Then, without regard for your science lesson schedule, the little buggers will pupate overnight, so you can’t even watch them do it. You will wake up and discover these brownish dull things taking up space on your counter, completely insensible to your careful plans, to say nothing of your preferred décor. At least they’re not frassing everything up anymore, but neither are they making much of a positive contribution to the household economy. How long can this go on?

But then—oh! A crack in the chrysalis—the wiggle of a wet wing!
You will hold your breath at the glimpse of a miracle in the making.

In the blink of an eye, the frass is forgotten, as improbably metamorphed beauty takes flight.

*On the bright side, frass is neither stinky nor goopy. In fact, I’ve read that it actually tastes like what the caterpillars eat, in which case our caterpillars’ frass would have been parsley-flavored. We decided not to test that particular factoid, so do let me know, intrepid readers, if you verify that.