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."