22 August 2013


Well folks, I just can't promise to blog any more, but I wanted to let you know I'm still here thinking crazy thoughts, and to everyone on the cross end of your posterity, at least we've learned that there are like five or six of us out here, and to all y'all who get your jollies from bashing your brothers and sisters in Christ who doubt the wisdom of rejecting what posterity God would offer, I hope your souls don't get too corroded.

05 August 2013

The confirming of suspicions

Courtesy of BAG online (the first edition of the Greek lexicon your husband refers to all the time while he writes his sermons, or would if he didn't actually know all those words which he totally does):


sumpovsion, ou, tov ( Theognis +=drinking-party, banquet [so Philo , Op. M. 78; Jos. , Ant. 8, 137; 12,
X. + also=hall where a drinking-party or banquet is held; also pap. LXX in both mngs. a party or group of people eating together (so Plut. , Mor. 157 D ; 704 D ) repeated, in a distributive sense (Bl-D, §493, 2 and app. Mlt. 97): sumpovsia sumpovsia in parties Mk 6:39 ( cf. prasiav ). M-M. *

That's right, girls. Symposium does not mean, "A bunch of really brilliant and holy pastors getting together and having profound thoughts and conversations for the betterment of the Church of God during which it is your privilege to stay home with all the kids for 3-15 days and pray for his mind and soul to be cultivated most salutarily." A symposium is a drinking party.

Just kiddin guys. You know we totally <3 you. ;)

17 June 2013

It's over!

On Friday, June 14, at 1:41 p.m., God turned my anguish into joy. Our little son was born weighing 8 lbs. 13 oz. He was just about 21 inches long. He has dark hair, a pert nose, and chicken legs. We like him very, very much.

Christ graciously enlarged His Church in the baptism of our son on Saturday morning. Now all that's left to do is sleep off the birth. Thanks terribly for your prayers, dear readers.

10 June 2013

Break on through to the other side

This again. But let's look at it from a different perspective this time:
He stood in the next room, his head leaning against the doorpost, and heard shrieks, howls such as he had never heard before, and he knew that what had been Kitty was uttering those shrieks ... 
"Doctor! What is it? What is it? By God!" he said, snatching at the doctor's hand as he came up. 
"It is the end," said the doctor. And the doctor's face was so grave as he said it that Levin took "the end" as meaning her death.
 Beside himself, he ran into the bedroom ... Kitty's face he did not know. In the place where it had been was something that was fearful in its strained distortion and in the sounds that came from it. He fell down with his head on the wooden framework of the bed, feeling his heart was bursting. The awful scream never paused, it became still more awful, as though it had reached the utmost limit of terror, suddenly it ceased. Levin could not believe his ears, but there could be no doubt; the scream had ceased and he heard a subdued stir and bustle, and hurried breathing, and her voice, gasping, alive, tender, and blissful, uttered softly, "It's over!" 
He lifted his head. With her hands hanging exhausted on the quilt, looking extraordinarily lovely and serene, she looked at him in silence and tried to smile, and could  not. 
Falling on his knees before the bed, he held his wife's hand before his lips and kissed it, and the hand, with a weak movement of the fingers responded to his kiss. And meanwhile, there at the foot of the bed ... like a flickering light in a lamp, lay the life of a human creature which had never existed before, and which would now with the same right, with the same importance to itself, live and create its own image.
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

07 June 2013

Sentence fragments

Not actually sentences.


05 June 2013

The game of global domination

No matter what one is doing in life, there are people who know what one ought to be doing instead. Once people give up on talking you out of having so many kids, they will change tactics and try to talk you out of having kids when you're old (unless, of course, you have no kids and are old; then it is still OK for you to have a kid and actually not really OK for you not to). 

Since we are very knowledgeable nowadays, the reason old people with kids should not have kids is that it's dangerous for old people to have kids. All your kid making components are rotting (and so are his, even), so you're going to have rotten kids, and having a rotten kid would be really bad and actually even selfish and pretty much almost immoral.

This is basic eugenics, and we are all naturally eugenicists in our own ways. It's just one of those things we have to recognize and learn our way out of. Here are the basic lessons for dealing with this particular line of eugenic thought:

--God puts an end date on each woman's fertility. When she's too old to have kids, she can't. If she can still have kids, she's not too old. (I mention this just to help us keep from mixing biology with ethics or morality.)

--Every human life is worth living, no matter how miserable it looks to the strong, the healthy, the gifted, the intelligent, the rich. To consider another life and say that it is not worth its own cost is nothing but prideful condescension. This judgment does not happen in a vacuum. To say, "You shouldn't risk having a Down's baby" is to look at a living person with Down's and say, "There should not be another person like you." There is only one person of whom God ever said, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born," and it wasn't because that man had a genetic defect.

--There is no person so un-rightly made that he does not show forth the image of God. There is no human so poorly endowed that she cannot receive the gift of forgiveness and salvation. There is no one so ugly, so weak, so sick, or so empty that he is beyond our risen Lord's power to make all things new.

--You don't know what baby you're going to have until you have it.

To avoid the increased risk of genetic problems or whatever other harms to which the children of older parents are more subject is to take the wrong gamble. So here is the general answer I have on hand for the caring people who want to make sure I know there's a bigger chance now that a baby I have could have something wrong with it:

"Thank you for telling me about that risk. I read an article about it too. If our Lord sees fit to give old people like us another baby, the greatest likelihood is that that baby will be healthy and well."

Practice it in your head so you can say it instead of what you're really thinking.

03 June 2013

Law as mirror

The real reason to dress modestly is not to smother another's lust, which is impossible, but to cover one's own pride. That's why the notion makes ladies angry.  

29 May 2013

Defying the laws of physics and mathematics

Some universal laws are upheld quite regularly around here. Like gravity: We’re always dropping stuff. And the second law of thermodynamics: Yeah, entropy always increases. Always. Then too, we’ve got the fourth law of thermodynamics down pat. (Didn’t know there was a fourth law of thermodynamics? Wikipedia helpfully points out that “Murphy’s law” has been referred to as such. Heehee.)

But Newton’s third law of motion? Reach back into your high school physics memories and recite it with me now: for every reaction, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. That one, we’ve got beat. By which I mean, for every action in this house, I can nearly guarantee you that there will be multiple and disproportionate reactions. I guess that means my kids have some kind of superpower…

Also, the math problem: If there’s technically a 50% chance that a toddler will put her shoes on the wrong feet, why does it happen 89% of the time? (Mind you, I’m thrilled to have a toddler who can put on her own shoes and who does so cheerfully. But I’m just askin’.)

20 May 2013

The old Must Be Nice

You know, you work real hard on something basically pointless like your kid's braids or a cake or the Valentines or some other mother's child's costume for the play and every once in a while some jerk comes around and takes a look and then compliments you by saying, "Must be nice to have time for stuff like that!"




But actually, it is nice to have time for stuff like that. Thank you God and, to the extent that he will allow me to credit him,  husband. 

It's not my fault people like that are jerks, and if they dropped off their kid at my house in the morning I'd braid that scraggly kid too (solely as a favor to the kid, however).

14 May 2013

Part the last of a long story about a broken leg

As promised, here is the inspiring conclusion of this pulpy rag. But you don't have to take my word for it.  

I hobbled in the boot for about three weeks. Every day, the pain got a little less poignant and the swelling a little less colorful. At the end of these weeks, the bottom of my foot was still noticeably bruised, but my shin stopped throbbing whenever I stood up, and my ankle got downright comfortable.

My mood was … mercurial. My husband still listened to a lot of crying and soothed a lot of panicking. But I had good days, too, especially once the sun started shining more and our asparagus patch started producing.

It also helps that this baby I’m carrying is a really good baby. This has been my easiest pregnancy. If I hadn't broken my ankle, I would have nothing to complain about. Which is probably why I needed to break my ankle? Yes, insane self. That must be it.

Moving on: We went to see the surgeon again, per the appointment made for us by the nurses on surgery day. My X-rays looked tolerably good. Progress was progressing. Everyone was sort of confused about my being there. Wasn't I all better already?

Surgeon: So, have you been walking on that ankle without the boot?

Me: No.

Surgeon: You haven’t?

Me: I was waiting for permission.

Surgeon: Huh. Well, go home and try walking on it and see what happens.

Me: Like, just stand up and walk?

Surgeon: Yeah. And we’ll see how it goes.

Me: Do I need special shoes or anything?

Surgeon: Oh, whatever (his phone rings, so …) Nice seeing you.

So, I went home, took off my boot, and ... yeah. I tried to walk, but it was very frustrating. My entire leg felt frozen. My range of motion was embarrassingly poor. And with the exertion, my ankle no longer felt comfortable. It had only been kidding about that. In reality, it was both wasted and somehow so swollen I looked like a Cabbage Patch doll. Purple cabbage. Which was rather appropriate, depending on your perspective.

But, full steam ahead and daum the torpedoes, right? The surgery-man had said to walk, so I figured I’d better just do it. I went back to the crutches for a day or two, which amounted to a lot of pretending to walk. Every once in a while, I double-dog dared myself to stand up and go for it, and then I would make a short trip down the hall and back, using the wall to keep myself upright. Getting around was possible, but for the most part I was really torturing myself. My brain must have figured that since we hadn't been using that left foot for so long, it just as well jettison any information it had stored on its function and purpose. Sin, man. It’s bad.

After a week of this, I called the surgeon’s office and begged for some help. They referred me to a physical therapist, whom I've been seeing for about two weeks now. She’s been immensely helpful. She’s given me tools to fight back against my specific problems, and she provides an objective gauge to help me see where I am progressing and where I am not. Because of her efforts and the exercise program she’s prescribed, I can put one foot in front of the other and move under my own power. I am not walking normally, but I am upright and bearing all my own weight. Which is rather prodigious just now, so good job, stupid ankle. But, you know, try harder next time.

I can’t expect things to start really normalizing until after this baby is born. For instance, I cannot very often fit my foot comfortably in a shoe even a whole size larger than what I am used to wearing. My OB tells me that because a full 30% of my blood volume is being directed through my placenta, my ankle is not being flushed of fluids as it should be. Then there’s the extra relaxin in my system. And the extra weight. And the 95-degree days. All in all, I’m as barefoot and pregnant as I can get. I still need to wear the CAM walker whenever I leave the house. And I can’t yet trust my ankle to carry me up and down stairs.

However, while I am still operating under an artificial light, I can finally see the sun shining on the other side of the curtain. The pain is gone. Any discomfort I have these days is just a pitiful little band of rebel soft tissues trying for control. We’re quite safe from their friends here. The bruising is mostly gone. When I am diligent about stretching and exercising my ankle hourly, my gait is almost sort-of normalish. I can make my children breakfast. I can lift my toddler son into his crib at naptime. I can fetch the cinnamon off the high cupboard shelf. I can drive. And as this parsonage isn't all that big, I can usually catch up to people in time to stop most naughtiness. Not too bad for having broken myself a mere ten weeks ago.

In five or so more weeks, this baby will be born healthy and well (God have mercy) and the real healing on my ankle can get going. Even so, it will be another nine or so more months until my ankle can be called reborn. About a year, then, of general weird living and not hiking and getting through it. But what’s one year in the greatest scheme of things? Christ is coming back. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. 

13 May 2013

Part two of a long story about a broken leg

I just wanted to mention that the reason I am recording this thrilling tale of my broken ankle is because my second favorite not food-related activity just now is Googling for stories of pregnant women who have broken their ankles. Remarkably, there aren't a whole lot of these stories available. So I really feel like doing my part to provide someone who might someday be pregnant atop a broken ankle with a story to read, should she love Googling for camaraderie as much as I.

The next day was a Sunday. My husband called his head elder to run through Matins rather than leave my father at my mercy all morning. Turns out getting to the bathroom and the like is rather improbable with a broken ankle dangling unfixed at the bottom of the leg, and I really needed my own husband by me. When it comes to pushing the “for worse” envelope all out of shape, I really know what I’m doing. But we made it through. I even got my dishwasher fixed; two men playing nursemaid to a crippled pregnant chick get bored between bathroom calls.

Later that afternoon, my mother and children arrived, and my mother declared that she was moving in with us for as long as it took. This cheered everyone up immensely, as no one, not even I myself, runs my house as well as my mother.

And then it was surgery day. There was a lot of being pushed around in wheelchairs and being transferred between here and there and getting poked with needles. The anesthesiologist opted to perform a nerve block on my bad leg; putting me under was out of the question and I don’t respond well to procedures involving my spine. Once on the operating table, it became clear that I don’t respond well to nerve blocks, either, so I got a dose of some sort of dozy potion that wasn't general anesthesia, but that set me to dreaming about Downton Abbey.

And then I woke up to an ankle held together by a plate and 12 screws. A liaison from the OB floor had been in the operating room with me, monitoring the baby throughout. The baby came through it fine. So they gave me a couple of hours to let the drugs clear my system and then sent me home.

And! Then I was home, back to living bathroom break to bathroom break. I was given some pain meds that claimed to be safe for my baby, and I took them. Sort of. For a couple of days. I couldn't really shower or anything, as my leg was not in a proper cast. Rather, it was wrapped in scads of padding and bandages and whatnot. Lying down was painful. Being upright was horrible. I was marooned in my room and utterly helpless to do anything for myself or anyone else. It was a tough week.

And then that week was over. And my husband took me to the surgeon’s office. A PA took out the surgical staples and cleaned me up a bit and put me in a CAM walker. She told me not to bear any weight in my CAM walker, and to sleep with it on my leg. But I could take it off to shower and loosen it a bit while being still. And with the CAM walker, crutching around the house became possible, which meant I could take my own self to the bathroom and my husband could go to the office sometimes and my mother didn't have to discipline the toddler all by herself. It was like having a single, bare light bulb turn on in a basement somewhere. Which is to say, everything still stank, but it was better than being in the dark.

Another two weeks went by, wherein I still spent most of my time in my bed with my ankle elevated on pillows. I worked through the magazine pile and watched a really stupid movie. But even better, my Kindergartner got a lot of reading lessons. My other kids got a lot more freedom than usual, and they used it to help Grandma and to be generally agreeable. My mother continued to prove herself the Best of All Mothers. My dad came over on the weekends to take care of my mother. My Ladies' Aid group coordinated the most intense supper drop-off in history. And my husband listened to me cry, soothed my panic, smacked my pride, and brought me communion as often as I wanted it. What am I complaining about? I’m exceedingly rich.

At the end of this two weeks, we went back to the surgeon’s office and actually saw the surgeon. Our conversation went something like this:

Surgeon: Are those your crutches there?

Me: Yes.

Surgeon: What are you using them for?

Me: Um … to move?

Surgeon: You don’t need those to move. You can bear weight in that boot.

Me: I can?

Surgeon: (a bit exasperated) Yes. You should have been bearing weight all this time. Get rid of those crutches. Goodbye.

So, I got rid of the crutches. It took me a couple of days. I started out just standing in the boot. Then I gingerly tried taking steps every now and again. Then I dropped one crutch. Then the other. And then I was walking. Well, let me be more honest: I was hobbling. Like, clud-THUNK, clud-THUNK, clud-THUNK. But, what the heck? I was ambulatory. I could get a bowl of yogurt out of the fridge all by myself. I could clud-THUNK into the grocery store and drive around on one of those silly little scooter things that squeal every time it's put in reverse. My mother was able to return to her own house and life. And best of all, I was able to go to church on Easter morning. That bare light bulb was burning in, like, the laundry room all of a sudden.

And that was how I spent the first four or so weeks of having a broken ankle. Tune in next time for the inspiring conclusion. I'll even try to make it like a Michael Landon program, just for you.

Part Three

11 May 2013

A long story about a broken leg

This post has very little to do with perpetual parturition, being a girl, the LCMS, or any of our usual topics. It is merely a chronicle of my recent experience with a trimalleolar fracture of my left ankle. Read it and weep, if you like, though I warn you that it’s pretty long and cobbled together about as well as my fibula. Feel free to read something else. Ciao, darlings.

Ten weeks ago, when I was 25 weeks pregnant, I was carrying my two-year-old son down my parents’ carpeted stairs when my foot slipped and I broke my ankle. Kazaam. Just like that, everything about everything changed.

People like to ask me for details about my fall: what did I think while it was happening? was I able to manipulate according to the laws of physics for the best possible outcome? did I hear my bones pop? did it hurt right away? do I miss the rains down in Africa? Disappointingly, there aren't any more details. One moment I was walking down the stairs; the next I was sitting next to a screaming toddler and watching my ankle balloon into freak proportions. I rather wish I had a video of the moment, because I can’t imagine how it happened. I didn't even properly fall. My foot slipped and hit the next step toe-first. I felt the bones give. I sat down hard. I didn't drop my son. I didn't bonk my belly. I just sat down, saw the Jackson Pollack show unfolding at the end of my leg, and began to scream.

My husband wasn't with us at my parents’ house, so it was up to my dear parents to tend to everything. They ran as soon as they heard me screaming, which was really something given that I wasn't alone in the activity. My toddler son, scared but blessedly unhurt, was screaming. My four-year-old daughter, who had been descending several steps behind me, was screaming. My eight-year-old son, who had been standing at the bottom of the steps, was shouting. Four voices raised together in song. Must have sounded really fine. 

My father reached me first, and asked me what happened.

“I broke my ankle!” I screamed.

“You broke your WHAT?!?” he asked. I later found out he thought that my water had broken, but no, no. Not just yet.

“My ankle! My God, I broke my ankle!” I screamed again. And then my mother tells me I started begging Jesus for mercy while turning a dull shade of gray. I just remember being very, terribly cold.

What I remember henceforth is that my father hauled me into his car and drove to the closest rural hospital around. I was X-rayed. The X-ray technician clearly thought I was grossly incorrect about being broken. Hence the following conversation:

Tech: (manipulating my badly swollen foot here and there to get the most perfectest picture ever) My goodness! You’re sparkling! 

Me: (gritting teeth and trying hard not to beg desperately for death) What?

Tech: Your skin is sparkling in the light!

Me: . . .

Tech: Are you a vampire?

Me: . . . Yes.

After getting what passed for perfect, the tech dangled my foot over the edge of a giant foam thing and traipsed back to look over her snapshots. In between my own sobs, I heard a long, low groan. Then the tech immediately returned to me, placed my poor leg in a far less painful position, and left the room to fetch the doctor.

The first thing the doctor said to me upon entering the room was something like, “Your ankle is really busted. You need surgery. I can’t help you here. I’ll cast you up, I guess, but you need to get to a bigger hospital. You likely need surgery right now.”

I immediately whirled into a furious panic. But my father took hold of me and calmed me down. He stood behind me and stroked my hair. He calmly warned me whenever he saw the doctor was about to touch my leg. He answered all the nurses’ questions for me and made all the necessary arrangements for my transfer to yon bigger hospital. He saw to it that I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on Doppler. He was absolutely heroic. My father is among the greatest men living, and not just because he is so very, very good to me.

But back to the star of this show: my stupid ankle. The doctor put me in a fiberglass cast up to my knee, which he then split all down the front to allow for the onslaught of swelling he assured me would come. Then the nurses deposited me in the back of my father’s car, wished me luck, and we were off to the next ER in a hospital three hours away.

Girls, if you ever break your ankle in an area that can’t accommodate your broken ankle, DO NOT LET THEM CAST YOU.* I was in agony—YES! Agony!—for the entirely of that three hour drive. The split in that cast was far from the Platonic ideal of split. It was worthless. The swelling had no place to go but hell, and it took me with it. Gah. I worked to be calm and to keep my blood pressure stable, but I think I might have failed a couple of times. I finally started “vocalizing” through the pain, for the sake of both my baby and my father, as neither would benefit from my sprouting horns and attacking that cast with my teeth. My father later told me he just kept thinking to himself, “What a nice song she’s singing. What a very nice song.”

Somehow we both came through that trip sane.

My husband met us as we were checking into the big hospital ER. He brought with him a backpack filled with everything I needed for a hospital stay (he even thought to include the lip balm, because he’s a man among husbands). And while I had to wait for every nosebleed and toothache to be cycled through before me, I was eventually given a bed, patted nicely on the head, and told the surgeon was on his way. At this point, it was close to midnight.

My husband and father sat up with me and tried to keep my mind off the pain—a Sisyphean task. I was run through an MRI. I was told why, for the sake of the baby, I couldn’t be given any real pain relief. I, in turn, explained why, for the sake of the baby, I would not accept any fake pain relief.. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

The surgeon finally arrived and decreed that while I did need surgery, the swelling would have to go down significantly before they could cut me open. He (finally!) removed the hated cast, but then started probing my ankle to determine whatever it is surgeons need to determine in ERs at 1 a.m. His probing revealed one interesting thing: one of my fractures was perilously close to the skin. The surgeon chose to reduce it then and there. His method: grab my foot by the big toe, lift my leg thereby, and shake the whole mess until things got back into place.

I’m going to skip the gory details and just admit to this: I would rather suffer a Pitocin-induced labor exacerbated by a failed epidural than go through that bone reduction ever again. Moving on.

Once satisfied with the shaking and reducing, the surgeon wrapped my lower leg in miles of padding and bid me goodnight. I was scheduled for surgery first thing Monday morning and sent home. My menfolk carried me into the house, secured me in my bed, and I managed to crash into a rock-hard sleep.

Well! This has gone on long enough for one day. I’ll get on with it later. Ciao to you darlings who are still reading, and I’ll see you next time.

*Except that this won't be a problem, as I am patenting this splendid thing and no one will ever be able to break her ankle ever again. Too bad for you.

Part Two

06 May 2013

Call of the wild

04 May 2013

Where's the baby?

Some months back we ran into someone we hadn't seen in a while. He asked, "Where's the baby?" "There," I said, pointing to the one-year-old running around. And then, "I guess she's not much of a baby any more."

Even less on this day, when she is exactly as old as our firstborn was the day our secondborn was, um, born. To our knowledge, there is no one else on the way.

So much for this. There's not much to say about it and even less to do about it.

29 April 2013

Name it and claim it

I spent the first seventeen years of my life meeting only three people with my name. Then in my first week at Seward I met about 35 other Rebekahs and Rebeccas, in addition to a huge surplus of Rachels and Sarahs. Apparently the matriarchs were the baby girl names to be had among families with a heavy investment in LCMS culture from 1975-1985.

I bring this up because if families with a heavy investment in LCMS culture are still sending their kids to Concordias 10 years from now, I think the places will be overrun by Anastasias, Marys, Evangelines, and Lilys.

25 April 2013

Book, Recommended: Pew Sisters

Look, I know it's all the rage to be disgusted with women's Bible studies and roll our eyes at whoever the stupid women are who read them and mope over why SOMEBODY thinks women are so dumb and doesn't pay US lots and lots of money to write GOOD women's Bible studies instead. Yes, yes, dears. We're all very smart.

But get real: I know very few (no?) women of any intelligence, education, or field of interest who don't enjoy  hearing about other women's lives and judging them. Quit faking, read some stories about other women, and judge away. You know you'll like it. You can do it with this book by Katie Schuermann.

Careful, though. Pew Sisters will make you mad. You will want to know how, freaking exactly and I'm talking mechanics here, Marianne forgave. You will trip on how things worked out for Diedre. You, you Concordian Sister of Perpetual Parturition*, will wonder if Anna could really be that tired if she wasn't even nursing and how Claire's situation could possibly turn out that way under those circumstances. You will wonder if Emily's story ever really happens or if that's just a weird Lutheran fantasy. Your ongoing Mary/Martha problem still won't be solved by this book, darnit! Why is Julia OK and Faye not (or are they)? What ended up happening to Christine, for crying out loud, and what about poor Laura? Why the easy answer here and the hard one there? What kind of sick freak wrote this? (A Lutheran, of course. Nobody else ever likes us. :D )

Here's the other problem with Pew Sisters: it is not really going to feel sorry for you. It is going to stick your nose in suffering and say, "What are you going to do about it, sinner?"  So what are you going to do about it? We sin. That's why rotten things happen, and that's why the message of the cross is neither baby food nor boring. Hear it again, sinner. You suffer because you sin. Jesus suffered without sin to end your suffering. If that message is beneath you, you're above God.

My recommendation: read this with some sisters. I don't mean your friends from class, because they're not your sisters (sisters are rarely the same age). Read it with your pew sisters, the ones who call the same guy pastor and the same church home. Do what the author says: call that pastor and have him speak from Scripture to the questions this book is going to bring up**. Judge and be judged, and be reminded again of real justice, the supreme beauty of grace, and to whom such things belong.

*Full disclosure is that if you give someone this book, they might suspect you of ulterior motives when they get to Gabriella. On the other hand, you're a real person too.

**It will still be a women's Bible study with a pastor there. Do your girl talking first and schedule him to come in 45 minutes after your start time.

05 April 2013

Alimentary, my dear Watson

Maybe it is the time I spend with fourth grade science books that makes me think this depiction of the life of an overture to the LCMS convention is a little TOO clear.

21 March 2013

...loves even me.

I’d like to say that I carefully read all the mail we get from missions and institutions and organizations that we support (or that would like us to support them), and that no such missives are ever tossed unopened, but in truth they’re subject to triage like any other aspect of my life at this point.

Recently, I was hovering over the trash can during a desperate counter-clearing effort, doing a pre-pitch skimming of the newsletter from one such mission, when this story changed my trajectory:   

[These two toddlers/preschoolers] are children of a single mother and unknown father. She is a drug addict who works cleaning windshields on the highway. They had lived, or survived, under a bridge fed only on street food, soda, and cookies. Their clothing was ill-fitted, dirty rags. They were victims of indifference.

[When the country’s social services brought the children to the mission], they hadn’t eaten all day. [The boy] was wearing only a t-shirt and a diaper that hadn’t been changed all day. But the smiles on both of their faces, their affection, and their innocence was unforgettable. After eating, bathing, and being dressed in our best, the looks on their faces were indescribable. Yet, they both cried a lot in the days that followed because they missed their mother. Since then, they have adapted well and stolen our hearts.

It wasn’t merely the brokenness of a world in which such stories are all too common, nor the accompanying photos of the children that brought the tragedy to a personal point, that stopped me cold. It was that last bit--did it catch you too? The part that stopped me in my tracks, that accused and humbled and consoled me all at once? Those babies were rescued from filth, neglect, and abuse—Yet, they both cried a lot in the days that followed because they missed their mother.

I feed my kids veggies and whole wheat (at least some of the time). I bathe and clothe them. I’m married to their father and I might even look to some (distant and casual) observers as though I’ve got my life somewhat together. But the really true truth here is that I’m no less in need of forgiveness than the mother who left those kids under the bridge. Nor is this desperately-needed forgiveness available to me in any other special place than it is for her, homemade yogurt and hygiene notwithstanding.

And—astoundingly, humblingly—when my desperate sinfulness spills over, as it too often does, onto them, my kids are just as grudgelessly ready with their love and their seemingly effortless forgiveness, as were those precious little ones whose mother failed more publicly than I.   

Rebekah wrote this one a long time ago, and I still think about it. I think about it because at the end of every day I can count so many times that I’ve screwed up this motherhood thing, again, and yet I can’t count a single time that a child of mine has gone to bed with anger in his heart against me. All this love and trust in their hearts, their eyes, their arms, always at the ready, all undeserved—an overflowing of grace, pure grace, the grace their Heavenly Father so richly and recklessly bestows—thanks be to our prodigal God!

Cost/benefit analysis

The preschooler and the toddler have been upstairs together for 15 minutes now, and it’s been very quiet. Do I go and check on them, possibly ruining the longest stretch of peaceful independent-together play that they’ve had in quite awhile? (The other possibility, of course, is that checking on them will save me a lot of, er, aftermath, if they’re up to no good.)

Ah, the perennial questions of motherhood.

20 March 2013

Husband talk

I find women differ much, both in the degree and manner in which their feelings will permit them to talk about their husbands. I have known women set a whole community against their husbands by the way in which they trumpeted their praises; and I have known one woman set everybody against herself by the way in which she published her husband's faults. I find it difficult to believe either sort. To praise one's husband is so like praising one's self, that to me it seems immodest, and subject to the same suspicion as self-laudation; while to blame one's husband, even justly and openly, seems to me to border upon treachery itself.

The Vicar's Daughter, George MacDonald

14 March 2013

Family makeout photography

I don't think a straight man thought of it.

12 March 2013

A is A

Thinking is not praying.
Caring is not praying.
Rejoicing is not praying. 
Marveling is not praying. 
Loving is not praying. 
Worrying is not praying.
Crying is not praying.

Only praying is praying.

11 March 2013

Ad menopausum

Katie is incorrect in referring to me as wise; it is precisely that lack of wisdom that keeps me talking. :P

It is an honor to have been offered a soapbox at He Remembers the Barren today. (You've bought this, right? And this?)

07 March 2013

Learn from the animals

From a friend whose cat just had her first litter of kittens:

Buttercup had another baby at about 10:30pm, so 3 orange and 1 grey. She is a horrible mother, all night I would wake up to kittens crying and she would be sleeping soundly with me and not her kids. I am afraid I may end up bottle feeding them. Mercy, what a little dummy.

Buttercup, I am right there with you. What you just been through sista! You need some SLEEPSES!

05 March 2013

Trumpet needed

A friend was telling me about the disapproving glances she gets from certain older women at her church whenever her kids get a bit rambunctious in the pew. She exclaimed, I don’t want to be one of those old ladies—the fussy frowny type! I want to be the wise kind, the kind that just rolls with everything, the kind that has deep joy. She paused, and then she added, But I’m afraid—do I really want to go through what it takes to get there?
That, in my humble opinion, is an entirely reasonable fear.

Once upon a time, I thought (or perhaps merely hoped) that simply having a statistically above-average number of children would be a sort of automatic piety-booster for me, a jump-start to personal sanctification. I mean, how could I spend most of my waking (and some of my would-be-sleeping) hours tending to the pressing needs of others, and not end up less selfish for it? Well…quite easily, actually. Rebekah touched on the topic in this ye olde (but goode) poste.

The terrible truth that I understand more fully than I care to admit is that I can all too easily feel this crowd of children pushing me, not toward a more pious dependence on the giver and sustainer of life, not toward a life of selfless good deeds, but toward the Other Edge instead.

I should have known better, even all those years ago. Doing what has to be done, simply because it has to be done, is not a magic formula for personal piety. If I’m not careful, in fact, the hodgepodge of daily duties combined with periodic crises (of childrearing and of life in general) becomes the perfect recipe for resentment and even despair. And too often, I’m not careful.  

Yet I’m afraid—do I really want to go through what it takes to get there? goes even deeper than  the constant war that must be waged against crankiness. It goes down deep, to the basement closet of a mother-heart—the door that we daily hurry past, shuddering, never opening because we’re ashamed of the horrid things that lurk there. I’m afraid—what would happen to our family if we got another kid like the complicated one (to say nothing of the potential for more complicated complications)? I’m afraid—because after a miscarriage, there’s no such thing, ever again, as a blithely-contemplated possibility of pregnancy. I’m afraid—because as my children grow, I realize anew just how little control I have over Outcomes. I’m afraid—because I go through long dark stretches where it seems like every day, my head sinks just a bit lower under the waves, and how many times can I reasonably expect to add more ballast and go under and yet come up again? 

I’m afraid—because I forget that what it takes to get there is, after all, never anything more or less than the cross. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Perfected for all time—safe in the Shepherd’s hand; while yet being sanctified—treading this via dolorosa. To wish for an easier way is only human; even our Lord himself did mention it wistfully once.The answer, however, remains the same.

What it takes to get there may prove to be every miserable thing in that basement closet of mine. And more. But through it all, I will yet remember to sing, even shout, that greatest of triumphant rallying cries: Killed all the day long--More than conquerors!

Find me a trumpet, someone; I’m going to learn to blast out that anthem til the quivering closet slitheries cower and realize the pitiful limits of their wretched reach.

01 March 2013

Sick comfort

I hate the sins I hate, but thank God I at least hate some of them.  

18 February 2013

"God in the grossness"

Intrigued? Then you might want to go here and read more.

(Full disclosure: The founder of this new blog is a friend of mine--which means I know firsthand that she's got a lot of great things to say about stuff and whatnot. Including grossness. I'm lookin' forward to all those Messy Mondays ;) )

17 February 2013

The best construction on everything

Long ago and far away, in a barely-remembered life, my husband and I were dog-shopping in a Humane Society. Amidst the deafening din of frantically hopeful barking that echoed over the concrete floor, we surveyed the hard-luck cases culled from the streets of St. Louis.

All of the dogs had little notes on their kennels, such as I am a gentle older dog and I miss my owner, who had to go to the nursing home and couldn’t take me along. I would love to be your new companion, or I am very affectionate and I love belly rubs!
The notes were all obviously intended to be winsome, but since I’d spent some high school volunteer time at a Humane Society, I knew that some of them required a little creative reading; e.g., I want to be your only pet (read: “I’ll eat your cat”); I would be a wonderful addition to a home without children (read: “I’ll bite your babies”); I would be a wonderful agility dog. I respond well to lots of exercise and attention (read: “If I’m bored, I’ll chew the furniture and herd your dinner guests); or I am loving and loyal but sometimes nervous, and I need someone who will be patient with me (read: “I’ll pee on your floor every time the door bell rings”).         

In short, the good people at the Humane Society recognize the power of words to shape our perception and treatment of our fellow creatures. (And indeed the fellow creatures’ perceptions of themselves, at least when the creatures happen to be human ones.)  

Over the years, I’ve heard people that I don’t even know very well say some startlingly harsh things about their kids, sometimes in said kids’ hearing. Why do parents do this? Well…I know all too well why parents do this. It can be so very hard, especially when one is frustrated with a child, or embarrassed by his behavior, to bite one’s tongue.

As my children grow, I’ve become increasingly convicted about how crucial it is to mind my words about them, especially (but not only) in their hearing. Would I like it if my husband patted me on the head whilst laughing to a buddy about how Wifey just never can seem to time the meatloaf and the potatoes exactly right, etc., etc.? No? Then perhaps I should think twice before telling tales in a condescending tone, even a fond one, as Sonny stands by, all red ears.
Awhile back, I read something to this effect in a veteran homeschooling mom’s reflections: I wish I’d talked less, and to fewer people, about my kids’ failings, even when the kid wasn’t around to hear it. Now, everyone needs someone(s) to talk to about the specific challenges presented at times by certain children, particularly Difficult Children (Heck, some of us could use a regular support group…), but that venue is most properly a)someone who cares for you and your family, preferably someone who also loves your children, b)someone who is walking (or has walked) a similar road and can offer helpful insights or much-needed empathy, and/or sometimes c)a pastor, counselor, or other professional. 

The venting venue—and this one isn’t always easy for me to swallow back down—is not anyone and everyone at church who sees you embarrassed for the umpteenth time by a behavior that you know perfectly well that you have addressed to the best of any parent’s possible ability. Grin (gritting your teeth as amiably as possible counts) and bear it; remove the kid for whatever preplanned words or measures you need to take; save the steam you need to blow off for your support system.   

If the people at the Humane Society can do so well at applying Luther’s catechetical explanation of the eighth commandment to the furry four-footed crowd, then surely I can work a little harder at putting the best possible construction on the dear little eternal neighbors entrusted to my care.

And when I remember to do this, to extend the same grace that I would like to receive, and indeed have received in such abundance, I’m amazed at how thoroughly it lights up the kid’s face and how instantly it puts us both back on the same team (imperfect, sinful beings operating under God’s grace and forgiveness, ever striving to help each other bear more fruit) again.

Try a few?

When the kid who “should be” too old to need you to walk him to his Sunday school room interrupts your conversation because he really does need you to walk him to his Sunday school room: “I’ll be right back. Sometimes we still like to walk to Sunday school together” is just so much better than, “*eyeroll, sigh*, hang on, I guess he can’t handle walking down the hall by himself yet.”  

When the kid who’s been told a thousand times not to interrupt, interrupts for the thousand and oneth time, a whispered reminder followed by a “Sorry, he’s just very excited to share” is much more graceful for all involved than is a snappish, “Can’t you see that we’re talking? What have I told you about interrupting?”

When the live wire who is constitutionally unable to sit politely in a pew for long stretches has an eyebrow-raisingly difficult Sunday (again): “Don’t you wish we still had that kind of energy? This kid does so well when we give him a tough project; you ought to see him sweep the garage.”

When your fumble-fingered, Velcro-shod kid watches a younger friend (and younger friend’s mom) show off his lacing skills: your kid will forever remember that you (whatever your private despair over his motor skill delays) complimented the other kid, then hugged him and turned the conversation briefly to something he did well (and didn’t make him practice knots for half an hour after you got home).

I know this is all terribly obvious but I wasn’t born clever and I have to keep learning and re-learning this stuff as I go along. I still mess this up sometimes, but I’m trying to get better. Fortunately, there are no shortages of opportunities to practice... 

And remember, if you’ve got a kid, like that tragic little Chihuahua mix at the pound, and in fact like most toddlers at least at some point, who really does pee on the floor every time the doorbell rings, just try to remind yourself: She is loving and personable. She just needs someone to be patient with her when she gets a little nervous and forgets herself.  ;P

15 February 2013

The trouble with Lent

Whether fried, pan-seared, boiled, or baked, fish still tastes like fish.

I got your back, little buddy.