Monday, December 31, 2007

Time with my folks.

I am ever so grateful to my Deacons who were able to read the Office of Prime and the Sermon I gave them while I was away. I cannot express how much I appreciate their willingness to do these duties. Thank you; Glen, Darrow, Wayne, and Randy.

This past year has been a very busy year with serving 18 funerals piled on top of the confirmations, baptisms, weddings and the regular worship service cycle.

Thank you.


The kids wanted to pose with their "Pirates of the Caribbean" swords. So I had them pose for a family portrait first.

Johnny cut a dashing figure as a pirate by the piano and the Victrola.

I got the "Pirates" swords on sale last summer when Wal-Mart was closing them out. I have to say that they are pretty well made. Sophie's sword has a crack in the blade, but otherwise they've lasted a whole week! Can you ask much more of plastic in the hands of kids?



None the less, here is the troupe from Elsie down to Stella posing as pirates for the world. Look out for Elsie. She's the one with her sword up and at the throat.

I had to go into Echo Charter school this week to do some paperwork regarding Jeremy. The woman I worked with was the mother of 4 kids on my bus rout when I was going to Echo Public School. It was nice to be able to catch-up on family news while doing the paperwork.


And because I can't resist her. I put a picture of Donna here.


She has three modes: Smiling, Hungry(crying), and sleeping.

But she has such a nice smile.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Clara's Birthday!!

Well, here's the kids all together. I'm kind-of reconstructing Christmas week, because I didn't post during that week. And regular readers know that these posts are back-dated (yes, I got your note, Barb. Tell Kim that Mary and I both got the tools we wanted and if you, he, or the boys want to shoot, Mary's uses .380 ACP and mine uses 9x19 Luger parabellums.)

Clara's Birthday is the 27th of December. It's a wonderful day, the celebration of St. John the Evangelist. The Aardvark has a great post on the significance of this Church celebration.

We celebrated Clara's birth. She missed being the "Millennium Child" by a couple of days. Mary and I were not paying attention to all the hype about "Millennium Babies" and "dates of optimal conception." Yeah, if Clara had been born just a few days later we could have won several pizzas from Dominoes and a year's worth of diapers. But really, we weren't competing. We're glad to have our beautiful Clara as part of our family.

My grandparents came over for the celebration.

I now have only 2 living grandparents. I was privileged to know 6 of my great-grand-parents and all 4 of my grand-parents. And I am very happy that Clara and the rest of my children can know Grandpa and Grandma K.

One draw-back of the date for Clara's birthday: Since we've come up to northern MN we've spent the weekend after Christmas, and Clara's birthday at my parent's place. This year Clara asked why she couldn't have a meal of her choice like the other kids get at their birthdays.

Drats. Kid's notice everything, even things their parents don't think about. Well, Clara, we didn't arrange this with Grandma A. this year. But how about you choose a meal one day this month (January)?

We love you Clara! Happy Birthday! And many happy returns!

It was a very enjoyable day. Stella was all tuckered-out.

One of the days this past week Mary and I went to Marshall, MN to do some shopping. Jeremy and Matthew weren't along with the rest of us last October when we went camping. So we let them go to a movie while we shopped. They saw the second "National Treasure" movie. And it appeared that they liked it quite a bit. I think that part of their liking it was the fact that they were on their own, without Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chrismas at My Parents' Place

The hoar frost continued down to southern MN. And it did not disappoint us. Christmas eve services were well attended as were Christmas morning services.

I love my parish. And I love the members of my congregations. And I wish them all and you all a very blessed Christmas.

After my final service on Christmas day it took us a couple of hours to get ready to go visit my parents.


Packing the clothing and food for 9 children is not a small task. And I must credit Mary (my wife) with most of the foresight to accomplish the work necessary to complete this task. I was a willing gopher throughout the work.

If I remember correctly, we were able to leave by 2 in the afternoon. With one stop for fuel, we were at my parent's place before sunset on Christmas day.

My kids like exploring their Grandparents' farm and grove.

How many of you remember creating "forts" or "homes" in your parent's groves? I remember that my brother and I had many "forts" in my parents' woods. It's fun to watch my own children discover and create "forts" in the same grove that my brother and I played in as children.

My brother has joined the Church Triumphant. I, my wife, our parents, and children are still here in the Church Militant. And it is such a wonderful world that God the Father has made for us to play in.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

winners and NiCad bateries

Dave S and Amy S (different families and last names) are the winners of this first contest. Both pointed out that I left too much information in the name of the image. I've changed that now. It used to be that Blogger would assign a random name to an uploaded image. I didn't know that they changed so that the same image name was kept. Even so. A promise is a promise.

Dave will receive "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons.

Amy will get a Frank Herbert novel of my choosing.

I'll give one more prize to the next person who identifies the image without the information from the name of the image. I've changed the name now. So looking that up is pointless.

Incidentally, my post on Personal Idiocy has received some wonderful feedback, and so has the post on Yvonne G's funeral.

I thank all of you who read this blog. I thank you for your input and for your comments. I thank my parish members who read the blog and let me know what's going on. This is an additional plus about the blog. I do hope it is entertaining as well as informative.

One thing I've learned about personal presentation: It is far better to be humble than to depend on one's position.

Saturday we had our Christmas program/chatichization at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church. We have three children in Saturday School. The oldest is 7 years old and she is the aunt of the other two children.

They did their reciting so well! I'm glad that while the complex nature of my call to a parish that has 4 congregations that I can work personally with at least a few of the congregations' children.

Chantell, Anna, and Katy did a great job in reciting Luke 2 and singing "Away in a Manger" for their Christmas Catechization.


Mary and some of our children came to the program, and they enjoyed the festivities after the program at Mt. Olive.
When we got home we had a mad race to clean the house for the guests that we would have this afternoon. Laura and Jamie D's. family came over in the afternoon

We had a wonderful time with them and their family. We look forward to a good and enduring friendship. Jamie and I had fun not only with theological debate but also with self-defense and techniques in hand-to-hand combat.

I must admit that I am pathetically out of shape. I taught taekwondo and self-defense for 20 years in a variety of situations.

But I am so pathetically out of shape now. I need to get back into a regime of exercise so that I don't get out of breath after a couple of minuets of exertion.

This last picture was around midnight on the 22nd of December. The photo is out our kitchen window. It was pretty bright this evening. I've written before about how the shortest day of the year that one can have enough sunlight to read a book. This photo looks a bit darker than I remember the evening. It was a bright evening. I'm reading the "Bourne Supremacy" and probably could have sat on our deck to read the book. But I've had too much going on to want to stay up late to prove my theories.

Sunday we held Rite 1 of the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary at St. Petri, Nazareth, and Oak Park.

After the first service at St. Petri I was greeting everyone and all of a sudden my right front pants pocket was hot. I pulled up my robe and quickly threw everything in it on the floor.

I had a lot of change in my pocket. But I carry several AA batteries in that pocket because I have microphones and a recorder that I use at each of my congregations. One of my AA batteries had made a connection through the change in my pocket. I have a burn, not severe, on my right thigh from the battery. I was able to get it out before it got too bad. But the plastic cover on the AA battery was melting when I pulled it out.

My great friend Steve S., pastor in Illinois, had a problem with his laptop computer. It burst into flames one day during class at seminary. The other students bough a fire extinguisher and put it on his desk after the fire.

Today, Eldon and several others laughed at my "hot pocket" experience.

Lesson learned.

Rechargeable NiCad batteries are an asset when a pastor depends on a remote microphone, voice recorder, or other battery powered tech. But a short-circuit for those batteries in the pastor's pocket can cause a great deal of pain. I'm thankful that I could get the batteries out before the burst into flame. When I look at the melted plastic on the specific battery I'm glad that nothing worse happened. And I'm also glad that some of my parish members could have a good laugh.

Tomorrow I have two Christmas Eve services. Tuesday I have two Christmas day services. May God bless you with the faith that your sins are paid for by the Christ Child. And may you remain in the faith that your sins are forgiven through Christ.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

contest


If you can correctly identify the commercial and source for this image I'll give you the first prize offered by me on my blog.

Your response has to be submitted as a comment to this blog.

The prize is up to whatever I choose.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hoar Frost and Yvonne's Family

I have to laugh with those who left comments on my Personal Idiocy post. I know I'm not alone. And I'm glad to have given you some time of laughter. This whole week we've had fog and hoar frost. It has been, simply, beautiful.

The trees and everything else has been/have been covered with 1/2 inch of hoar frost this whole week. It's like looking out on a crystalline paradise of God's own artwork.

I know that so-called "scientists" could say that this beauty is simply a perception of the geometric nature of water freezing out of the air. But "science" can't ever measure beauty, truth, love, or faith.

Wednesday we held Wed. School. This was the last of this semester. The kids knew their lesson well. They all have mothers and fathers who care about how well they know God's Word and God's teaching in His Word.

I did stop by a couple of shut-ins on Thursday. But I've been madly working on sermons this week.

I have the weekend, 4th Sunday in Trinity, a Christmas Program/Chatechization at Mt. Olive on Sat., A funeral wake devotion and sermon plus a funeral sermon for Yvonne G., Christmas Eve sermon, and Christmas Day sermons to prepare.

Thursday evening I held devotion for Yvonne G.'s family. She died at the age of 59, falling in the snow and ice after starting her car. She was going over to her father's place (Bert G's) to fix a meal for him.

She was found 2 hours later.

Yvonne was the oldest of Bert and Irene's 12 children.

Bert's brother, Willie, died last year, and his funeral was just more than a year ago.
Yvonne's aunt, Adeline, died last January. Our parish has had 17 funerals during the past year since Willie died.

Please keep Bert's family in your prayers.

There was a Magpie in front of the house this morning (Friday) eating the cat-food. Back in the 16th and 17th century the Lutheran pastors were mocked by the Reformed churches as looking like Magpies. Lutheran Pastors retained the vestments of the Roman Church while preaching Justification by Faith Alone. The Reformed wanted to have nothing to do with Rome and mocked or destroyed anything that they thought could be considered "Roman Catholic."

The Magpie reminded my of the iconoclasm which lead to so much pointless bloodshed from 1524 and on. Even today Reformed people will reject a cross with the body of Christ portrayed on it because it is "too Catholic." Shame on them. The Apostle Paul said:
  • And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Cor. 1:1-2)
May we never be ashamed using every effort in art, sculpture, image, or word in teaching this simple truth.

Friday came and so did Yvonne's funeral. When I arrived at Nazareth I talked to Bert and several of his children. When Willie died I had hoped that the family could get together for a photo. But I didn't prepare enough in advance.

All of Bert's children, except his triplet daughters, were present at Yvonne's funeral. Yvonne once told me that she was disappointed that her family didn't get together regularly. So I asked them all if they would stand for family photographs after we came back from Yvonne's graveside committal.

So here we have, Bert, Irene, and the children who could come. Bert had 12 kids. Here are 8 of them. We probably could, and should, have included the Mostroms, the Petersons, the Hanson, Bjerkelies, the Dalens and others along with the Goods.

Here we have direct descendants and spouses of those who could come. Nazareth Lutheran Church is a wonderful mix of Sweedish, Ojibwa, Norwegian, Finnish, and whatever else Heintz 57 mix you could imagine.

But the thing that keeps us together is not just family, but the Gift of God in His Son Jesus Christ.

May you have a blessed Christmas.

After Yvonne's funeral I went down to Alexandria, MN, to meet my parents and pick up my son, Jeremy. I hope my Mom and Dad had a safe trip home. Jeremy and I ran into some really bad ice on the roads when we passed Menahga. The ice continued to Zerkel. Jeremy and I saw several cars in the ditch on the icy stretch. But we got home safely.

My neck and shoulders are quite tense from the icy roads. My knees are sore from the manual transmission. But I've got my sermon memorized for the morning. And, God willing, I'll sleep well tonight.

God bless.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Camp Indianhead 2008

Dates for Camp Indianhead for 2008: July 6-11



Location: Luther Island Camp, near Henning, MN (same as last year)



Cost: probably the same as last year – around $230.





I expect a large crowd this year. We will need counselors too. Please
your congregations know. Thanks.





Simul Justus et Peccator,



Pastor David Thompson

Personal Idiocy

All pastors make stupid mistakes. I made a big gaff this Christmas with our family Christmas letter to our congregations. But first, let me tell you of two other huge, personally embarrassing things I've done here.

Why should I tell you? Do I have no shame? Yes, I have shame. But I also realize that others can learn from my stupidity and also, and I value this greatly, some may enjoy my embarrassment and come to appreciate the frailties of their pastor.

Event 1: Soon after I came into this parish I had to learn how to use cordless microphones in a consistent way so I didn't have to think about it. I was in front of the congregation, digging in the front of my robe to find the microphone switch. I said, "I'm sorry. I'm not used to cordless microphones. I have to set this up so I know whether I'm turning myself off or turning myself on."

I noticed several of the younger adults giggling at this statement. The impact of my words hit me in the middle of the opening prayer. I am such a dufus.

Event 2: Another cordless microphone issue. And probably one of the most embarrassing things that can happen with a cordless microphone. It was on when I went to the bathroom. The organist was the only person who heard. She knocked at the bathroom door, "Pastor! Turn off your microphone!"

What a dufus!

Event 3: This weekend. Our Christmas letter that I was supposed to proof read. I read it. And I corrected it. But I missed several things. Most of them were capitalizations. But there was one typo that had several members in stitches. Here is the paragraph from the letter that I was supposed to be sure was OK.
For Joe this has been a year of funerals. We have lost so many from among our parish. For a pastor, as for all Christians, funerals are a time of sadness and Joy. They offer a pastor a chance to proclaim to those not of His flock the message of shat dying in the Lord is all about. what a privilege! But there is always the sadness that comes with losing someone we love. Joe has shared that loss with many of you this year.

Yes, I let the word "shat" in this context be distributed to all my members. It was supposed to say "what" instead of "shat." I am so sorry. I have to admit, when this error was pointed out to me I was both taken aback in horror and also laughed like a maniac.

I ask my members to please forgive me and laugh at me and my own stupidity.

What a dufus!

May you have a blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Busy Week: Christmas Programs

Wow! This week went by in a blur of activity. I remember that I prepared and had Wed. School and that the kids did pretty well. There was something on Thursday, but I was having a gluten reaction to something so I didn't get to shut-ins in the Gygla area that day. Friday I went to the shut-ins, but none of them were home!!!! Usually the term "shut-in" means that they can't get out, and the Pastor can rely on them being home. But no joy today. I crashed at Jim and Tami's and talked and helped with David for a while. I called a couple of shut-ins from their place. One was home, so I went to see her.

Blanche will have surgery in Fergus Falls on Tuesday the 18th (my baptism day) for two herniated discs. Please keep her in your prayers.

Friday eve was program/catichization practice at St. Petri. I got home late and memorized my sermon for this weekend.

Saturday I had worship at Mt. Olive with program practice for the three little girls in our Saturday School at that congregation. Program is next Sat. I got home to an emergency message. Yvonne G. died this morning, very unexpectedly. She went out to start her car, and they found her 2 hours later lying on the ground. We don't know if she slipped and hit her head or if she had a heart attack. Please keep her father Bert and her 11 siblings and her extended family in your prayers. Funeral planning is Monday morning.

I stopped by to visit a shut-in, Olive B., on the way home.

Louisa, Elise, and Clara helped me get the St. Petri program copied and folded in the afternoon. It became a game to see if they could keep up with me.

Saturday evening we had Christmas program/catechization at St. Petri. The hoar-frost was pretty.

From St. Petri I have 3 confirmands and they have one younger child in Sunday School.

They did a great job with presenting the catechism and the biblical account of Christ's birth and the significance of His birth for the world. We had an evening lunch after the program.


I'm sorry that I only have photos of St. Petri's program.

We got home late after the program. I had to get the bulletins ready for Nazareth and for Oak Park's Christmas programs. Louisa, Elsie, and Clara raced me to see who could fold more programs

Sunday Morning we had our program and dinner at Nazareth. The kids there did very well.

I went over to visit Bert, Karen, and Robert to see how they were doing, to comfort them with Scripture, and to do some preparation for Yvonne's funeral.

When I got home I got ready for Oak Park's Christmas program. OP had practice Saturday morning.

Oak Park's program also went well. I have four confirmands at Oak Park. And they did well with the catechization, everyone did well with telling the story of Christ's birth and what it means for us as sinners and our eternal redemption.

This weekend I preached on the Historic Pericopes and John the Baptist and what his life and testimony mean regarding the baby who was born that first Christmas eve.

After the program at Oak Park we had a dinner and a wonderful time with members and guests.

I'm so thankful for the testimony of the children and the impact of the Christmas Gospel. I have three guests at the Christmas services who have requested adult instruction and expressed a desire to become members.

May God bless you all this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Elmer Fudd joins the family

Monday: Stella is a little nanny-goat. She gets everywhere. And she is growing so fast. While she was intent on showing off, I took Matt with me to scout out where we might hunt up some Jack Rabbit.

That wasn't so difficult. They're everywhere here.

So, after our noon meal, Matt, Louisa, and I went out to "Twack the wascawly wabbit to its wair."

This was my first Jack Rabbit hunt too.

And we pretty much were awful at first. If'n we'd got each rabbit we stopped to try to get, we'd probably have 8 or 9.

Our tactics improved through the afternoon. We were only out for an hour and a half.

Louisa and Matt each got their rabbits. They're about 10-12 pounds. Louisa helped mom with other things while I was cleaning her rabbit. Matt helped out with some of the cleaning.

Louisa wanted to go out Tuesday as well. But I had visits.

So now it's Tuesday. I put the rabbits in the crock pot this morning. Then I went off to do some shut-in visits.

I'm home now at the kitchen computer. Man, that rabbit smells good. I hope Mary and the kids like it, cause they are a pretty abundant source of food and fun.

Good job, Matt and Louisa! Let's do that again soon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Window licking

I remember the little kids on my school bus route when I was a kid. Come winter, many of them would lick the frost off the windows. They didn't sit in the same seat each day. And I doubt that the bus driver sterilized the windows before each run of the route.

Wonder why kids pass sickness? I don't.

So, here's Stella and John enjoying the cold weather and being told "Quit licking the window!"

It's been kind of fun to have the snow. But it means a bit of work too. Kyle is so good to come over and plow out the church lot and the driveway. Thanks, Kyle.

And the winter has its own kind of beauty. I'm sure I will enjoy the riot of colors in the spring, especially the apple and plum blossoms.

But there is some great beauty in wind sculpted snow. I don't care if you agree or not. I like it.

Just keep the kids away from the windows and computer screens.

My Cars won't start and Church as Family

Sunday morning was very cold, - 20F and lower at times. I tried to start my Escort, turned the key and it said "uh, uh, no waaaaaaaayyy." So I went to our Dodge van. It said, "So-o-o-ory."

I called Wayne at St. Petri, "Everything's ready. We can use the dining hall. It doesn't take as much to heat."

I called Connie and Kelly L. "Well get you a car right away."

I got to St. Petri a bit late. Which means that each service was late by 10 to 15 minutes.

I (the fourth paragraph I've started with this personal pronoun) can't tell you how much I appreciate the members in these congregations God called me to serve..

Kelly came quickly. I dropped him off at his house and went to St. Petri.

Since the service was held in the dining hall at St. Petri (the second time since I came here in 6 years) there was no altar or pulpit. I felt a bit awkward without a pulpit. Kind of like Jimmy Swaggert with a floppy Bible cover, only with a clerical robe.

After service at St. Petri I took Kelly's car to Nazareth. Kelly has a new car. I was fascinated by the multi-media display in the car. The speedometer said I could go 160 mph. I have to admit, it was very easy to get up to the speed limit. And very tempting to see if what this car said was true.

Nazareth started late because I got there late. There was good attendance at all three services despite the cold.

The county line road (between Nazareth and Oak Park) has not been plowed. There are only tracks to follow. But the tracks were good enough. At Oak Park we held Leif T. H's baptismal affirmation today.There was a dinner at Oak Park in honor of Leif's baptism. I've got some photos from today. I'll, hopefully, put them in this post later.

After all the church work from 6am to 2pm I went home. Chris V. made a nice gluten-free muffin for me at the dinner, but I was hesitant to eat anything else.

A couple of nights ago I tried, just to see what would happen, a beer from Mary's recent purchase. It smelled so good. It tasted wonderful. It was a Samuel Adams Porter. But it gave me diahreeah within 1/2 and hour. And I only had 1/4 cup.

So, celiac disease should be taken seriously.

How many of you are saying, "hey, this is too much information?" Tough. This is my blog, and I call it as I see it.

After Mary and all the kids were home I fielded the kids so Mary could have a bit of rest. I made my dinner.

One family at OP had hunted Jack Rabbits yesterday and harvested 7 rabbits (hares, to the more finicky of you). So when I went out to get the car started this afternoon and charge the battery, I went up and down our mile of road. It looks like we have between 5-8 Jack Rabbits in our ditches. Maybe we can get some of them in our freezer.

The last time Mary and I had rabbit was in 1992. It was good food.

My mom is doing fairly well after her surgery, but she might need another surgery. Please keep her in your prayers.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The thermometer reached a balmy -9F today!

I had to laugh Wed morning when I found out the Senate was going to vote on Global Warming. We had -23F that morning. Well, it's still cold. This morning the thermometer fluctuated between -23 and -27 for a few hours. It spiked at -9 around 2:30. And now at just after 5pm its down to -15.

We didn't have church at Mt. Olive this morning. The congregations have a -20F rule to keep people safe. It don't take long to freeze to death or get seriously injured in these temperatures.

And, can you imagine it? There's a whole country just north of us! They must have some good insulation up there.

I tried to finish up Christmas Service planning today. I held confirmation class with Nitro.

BTW, parish board members. Can we meet Monday evening at OP?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sick and Tired of the Flu

Johan Sebastian Bach's first wife, Maria Barbara Bach died in 1720. They had been married since 1707 and had 7 children. He married Anna Magdalena Wilcke in 1721. They had 13 more children. Only 10 of all the children survived to adulthood. The medical profession is better today. And, unless some kind of socio-economic collapse occurs where we have to live off the grid, we hope and expect that each of our 9 children will live to adulthood.

What I'm getting at is that I've got a lot of kids, and while great Lutherans like J.S. Bach had to face real terrors of death when the flu affected his children--I don't have as great a worry as he did. And I thank God greatly for what He has given to modern medicine.

But my kids still get sick. And one bug can stretch out its painful affects through a month or two in a family of nine children. Some of you might call a technicality on me by reminding me that my oldest son is living with his grandparents during the school year. True enough. But remember that Grandpa, Grandma, and Jeremy were here over Thanksgiving weekend? I hope that my folks do not have to deal with this in themselves or in Jeremy.

Mom had surgery on Wed. And she had to have another surgery on Thurs. morning. Everything went well during both surgeries. She's home now, recovering from the knife. And so far neither Mom, Dad, nor my first son have shown signs of this flu.

But Louisa got bad Wed. night. Thursday morning she was puking. She seems better now.

I should say that I've been to TR a couple of times this week and checked on hospitalizations. As I've looked back over the entries in this blog I seem to focus more on family than on parish. Since one of my reasons for starting this blog was to keep parishioners updated on what I was doing in the parish, I ought to mention when I do parish work. So, another parishy type thing I've done is had marital counseling several times over the past two months.

No, I won't tell anyone who I counseled. Shame on you if you were wondering about it!

Thursday was when Donna started having a fever. Thank God, she hasn't had problems with vomit. But she's unsettled, hot, and cries a lot. Mary and I seem to automatically take turns comforting her. Maybe it's this flu, maybe it's that she's getting teeth. But it makes for restless nights.

Okay, (totally new topic) since my own teenage years I have been afraid of teenage girls. I hide this fear pretty well (so I delude myself) with my confirmands. But now my oldest daughter is only a year and a half away from teenagehood (my spell checker doesn't like that word). I love my kids so much, and I'm so squeamish when it comes to their growing up into adults. All the holding, kissing, snuggling, spanking, and teaching through childhood seams to turn my head around and make me wonder "who is this person that God has given me the responsibility of making a responsible citizen of Family, Church, and State?" Yeah, this still relates to the topic of the "Flu".

As a dad I can't stop worrying about my little girls and hoping and praying that they will get well. And, as a dad, I still am baffled by the difference between caring for a sick infant daughter and one who is becoming a woman. My own childhood did not prepare me for this. Mary's did. Thank God for large families and my wife's experience. I would be totally incapable without her.

And now for a tease. Mary, I ordered your Christmas present. Kids, I got your Christmas presents (well, some of you, anyway). Ha, ha, hee, hee. When they come shaking the box won't tell you what they are! Shawna, your Christmas present is on its way from Amazon. Expect two packages. I don't care when you open them. Just know that we love you and your family. I hope you like the gifts. You have been so generous with us.

It's late Friday night. It looks like the temperature will be below -20 degrees in the morning.

Joel S. when you read this down in southern Texas, remember what it was like to go outside and have all the nose hairs freeze shut when you took a breath of air? Yeah, it's that cold. The stars are beautiful. Even if the song says:

The stars at night are big and bright
(clap, clap, clap, clap),
Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie sky is wide and high
(clap, clap, clap, clap),
Deep in the heart of Texas.

I doubt that you could count 11 stars in the Pleiadies like I can this night. It's so beautiful.

I just hope no one pukes tonight.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

NPR Reporter This Morning

I go up early. Stella was puking at 4:30am. I got her cleaned up and settled. John came out around 5am saying "Dad, Sophie said it was time to eat the ham."

"Go back to bed, John."

I couldn't get back to sleep so I turned on the radio. I'm listening to public radio news this morning. You know, "fair, unbiased, and intelligent" reporting. So this reporterette was trying to show how rain patterns are tied to global warming, even though she couldn't find a real difference in rainfall patterns. But then she said this:

"Scientists have discovered that it's drier when it's not raining."

I kid you not.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow

Sunday morning was a mess. Stupid me didn't call anyone about whether or not we should have services today. I got up, ate breakfast, started the car to let it warm up, got the bulletins, and went to St. Petri for first service. It's 35 miles away.

It was the first 5 miles that were really bad. To make it through the drifts you had to stay above about 40 mph. To keep from fishtailing you had to stay below 20mph. I nearly got stuck 3 times. In front of Chris and Allan's I fishtailed all over for quite a way before my right front tire caught gravel at the edge of the road. All this was in the first 3 miles. Someone had driven through with a pickup. So the next 2 miles weren't really so bad. I just didn't want to bottom-out my car. My tires were good.

Everything was plowed from the Goodridge corner to Grygla. St. Petri had very good attendance. Not nearly as much snow had fallen there. They had plowed out the lot.

I made my way back to hwy 1 and went east to go around so I wouldn't have to take old gravel roads to Nazareth. When I got the Nazareth road I thought there might be some trouble. It is gravel and after 2 miles of near bottom-out snow I finally was able to get down to the church. I met Wade and Lori there. The church yard wasn't plowed out. Evidently, while I was on my way to St. Petri the Nazareth Congregation had called off church. That was ok, because it was still snowing fast and starting to blow. Wade and Lori didn't get called. So I'll have to make sure they're on the call list.

I took the long way around on the tar roads to get back to Oak Park. Louisa and Elsie met me. They were sledding in the ditch. "No Church today, Dad."

Winter is a bit of a challenge here. We teach our kids not to go out to their forts, which are about 1/4 a mile away, because a snow squall can come up very fast. The younger kids aren't quite yet in tune with the weather. The older ones are pretty good at reading radar patterns now.

I seemed to have a bit of a relapse into my flu today. After lunch (noon meal) I was nauseated. Not because of the food. The OP and Naz. Ladies' Aids had their Christmas meetings planned today. I don't know what happened at Nazareth. OP went on with their meeting. But I wasn't able to attend.

Thank you for the nice shirt and sweater. I like them a lot.

I forgot to record the sermon today.

Monday, I was feeling a lot better, but I realized that my license plates on my car were out of date. And since my birthday was on Saturday that meant that my Drivers license had expired. So Mary and I went to TRF to the County Building to take care of these legal oversights. Problems solved, we picked up some groceries and Christmas gifts, met Shirley L. at the store, talked for a bit, and went home. She was getting her grandkids their presents. I know what they are! Trish, Jake, Noah, Josh, Cam, and everyone else, you can ask, but I won't tell!!!!!

I did some shoveling today. I have to thank Kyle N. for his wonderful work in clearing the parking lot, our driveway, and making a nice path from the house to the office. Thank you, Kyle.

I spent some time today cleaning and sorting our store room stuff. Yesterday (Sunday afternoon) I tried to fix Johnny's DVD for the "Cars" movie. This morning I played the version I tried rescuing from the DVD. It went fine until the tractor tipping scenes. Oh well. But Johnny heard the music when I was playing my attempt at recovering the DVD. He got out of his bunk bed and came out fairly early, "Is that Lightning McQueen?"

He is such a motor head.

I have to say, that, as a work of art, I'd put the movie "Cars" right up there with "The Godfather."

Anyway, It's late now. Time for me to go to bed.

Good night.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

41st birthday

Today is my birthday. As a Confessional Lutheran I have the dubious honor of having a birthday that was lately decided to commemorate World AIDS day. For people who deny the evidence of sin, please consider how a disease that is 100% preventable by the Commandment against Adultery could be an epidemic. Duh!

How did my birthday go? In the morning I got up and got the kids ready for breakfast. Mary was cooking. Sophie was still asleep when the meal was ready. I went in and lay down beside her to wake her up. "Sophie, It's time for breakfast!" I said. She opened her eyes and said, "Happy birthday, Daddy."

I love my children.

I took Louisa and Elsie along with me and held Divine service at Mt. Olive, then Saturday School with Christmas program/catechization practice.

I got home and found a bunch of liquid soap spilled all over one of the bathroom floors (my son, John). I fielded a crying baby Donna for a while, went into the kitchen to find a puddle of spilled mineral oil in the kitchen (my son, John). We had lunch (noon meal), Mary took a bath. Then I took a short nap. My voice still isn't 100%. But I'm feeling better.

After my nap I tackled the problem toilet. I pulled the whole thing apart and with the toilet screw I finally rescued Whinny the Pooh! He had been desperately trying to signal us that he was in trouble. Someone had flushed him down the toilet! Whenever toilet paper was used he would grab it an try to tell us that he was stuck and unable to swim upstream.

I threw him away.

The whole repair took about 20 minutes with disassembly and reassembly.

It grew near supper time. The kids had been making presents for me the last couple of days.

Did I say that I love my kids?

I do.

John got sick 20 minutes before supper. Just as we were sitting down he threw-up. It's probably the same flu that I had. Poor little boy.

Mary made a GF cake for me that tasted wonderful. The meal was a wild rice casserole with corn. It tasted great. In the background of this photo on the wall beside the map you can see two birthday cards taped to the wall.

Here I am blowing out my candle. I missed the first time. Of course, I have a girl friend, Mary, my love. The kids laughed and teased me for loving their mommy.

Good for them.

Then it was cake time! Louisa was so excited to be the photographer for my birthday. I hardly ever let the kids touch my digital camera. So Louisa was wanting juicy photos for the blog. I gave her one.

The knife is a true-to-life Ginsu knife that I bought in 1986 when I lived in Kennisaw, Georgia. Kennisaw has a law requiring all residents to own a hand gun. Kennisaw has almost no crime. Go figure.

The Ginsu knife still works. It was worth the $19.95 in the TV ads. I spent about $10 for it in a shop in Kennisaw. Yes, it can cut through a 2x4 and still slice tomatoes.

Then, after cleanup for supper came the gift opening. Sophie can't yet read, but she can copy very well. Her card was a perfect "Happy Birthday Daddy" in balloon letters. Johnny gave me several cars. Each of the kids were so nice in their gifts and creativity.





Louisa took this photo of Donna. Donna was set down in the middle of the gift giving fray. She loved the sounds and the interaction. She's growing like milkweed. She's been a bit perturbed lately because she's getting a tooth.

John's been throwing up about every 20 minutes. At this rate he'll get the privilege of experiencing the dry heaves soon.

I put him on a towel with a pillow, blanket, and bucket outside the main bathroom. Poor boy.

Louisa evidently couldn't help herself with this last photo. Yes, she's in it. Matthew, I think, took the photo. And all the girls are dancing for my birthday.

I love my kids. And I love their mother.

I hope John does well through the night.

Friday, November 30, 2007

My Wife and the Litugy

Mary is truly wonderful. She's my best friend. And I am merciless in teasing her, I shouldn't be. She's so nice to me. She read the last post on the dentist pulling Clara's tooth and was (in 1980s valley girl speak) totally grossed out.

But let me tell you how wonderful she is, today, a day of recovery from illness, she went to get a toilet gasket for me. We have this one toilet that has something stuck in it. Tomorrow I'll have to bail it out and remove the blockage. But Mary was willing to go get the wax gasket for the toilet, not the most romantic task. Perhaps she enjoyed the time away from all the kids, but I prefer to think of it as an act of love.

Although, when she got home she was singing.

"I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, She's so cold."

I suppose it was just the catchy way that Mick Jaeger sings. It is a catchy tune from our youth. But it does leave one wondering how much pop culture affects us. I don't think I've heard the song in over 20 years. But I could recall the lyrics just as well as she could.

Right now the lyrics for "The Cowboy and the Poet" are running through my head. I'm memorizing my sermon for the morning, the 1st Sunday in Advent. I'd prefer that "O Come, O Come, Imannuel" were running through my head.

It's like the old computer programmers said: "GIGO: Garbage In=Garbage Out." So, tonight I'm trying to fill my head with something that ain't garbage.

Yet the refrain runs on "its faster horses....." How pathetic am I.

It's times like this that I appreciate the value of the Liturgy. I am privileged to have the opportunity to repeat it 4 times each weekend. That means, counting special services, I've gone through it more than 1200 times in the past 6 years. Repetitio matre studiorum est, Repetition is the mother of all studies. The theology and biblical texts of the Liturgy become like breathing. Of course, one should think about them while performing them. But it's nice to know that the Liturgy, like breathing, can carry us through God's Word if we are distracted or feeble minded.

I've had elderly members victimized by Alzheimer's disease or some kind of dementia that were able to go through the liturgy when they couldn't remember me or their own name. What a wonderful testimony concerning repetition and grounding Christians in the biblical text and Gospel message of the Confessional Lutheran Liturgies. When we are feeble, we know best what we've repeated most. GIGO is a great warning. Let us keep from the garbage and keep repeating the Law and the Gospel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Under the Drill! My natural frequency.

Wednesday my voice was still very week, this made teaching Wed. School hard. But it was a good class. We went over the second section on Baptism and the first part of the Office of the Keys as well as a continuing in-depth study of our worship service, it's biblical sources, catechetical application, and value to the life of the believer.

Wed. morning I had a hospital call in TR for a member (Chris) who has been sick for quite a while. She developed pneumonia, went through the regimen of antibiotics and had to be hospitalized because she got worse after she was done with the antibiotics. Her husband (Alan) has come down with shingles. They are both in their early to mid 40s. Their two kids are doing fine. Please keep Chris, Alan and their family in your prayers.

Thursday morning was D-Day (D for Dentist). Clara needed to have a tooth pulled. I needed to have a cavity drilled and filled.

Clara was excited. I was first. And when the dentist or I teased Clara about her extraction she pouted with a twinkle in her eye.

Clara: "How long will it hurt?"

Me: "10 to 12 days."

Dentist: "No, that's 10 to 12 minutes."

Me: "Oh-beh, yeah-beh, witbeth a-bell thibs libdocabne a cabn't tebell thebeh dibeferbrebence."

Yes, I took this picture. I am a bit of a masochist. It's my theory that everyone has a "natural frequency" which sets them on edge. For some people it's the sound of fingernails across the blackboard. For my mom, it's a fork scraping against the plate. For others it might be the squeaking of teeth against Styrofoam cups. And others might be nauseated by their finger-nail vibrating against the zipper of their jacket. For me, it's the dentist's drill. If waterboarding could fix my cavity I'd rather do that then go under the dentist's drill. What does the Geneva Convention have to say about dentistry?

He had to drill a lot. I had a sealant put on a decade ago. That was supposed to prevent cavities. Wonder of wonders, those nasty little bacteria had infiltrated under my sealant, popped it off and made a nice little colony in one of my molars. I'm sure, if evolution were true, that the bacteria would have excavated a wonderful little city with Corinthian columns and complex architecture. Perhaps they would have developed their own version of the Internet. But the dentist was merciless in his eradication of their civilization. I'm also sure that some environmentalist whack-o will some day petition that such colonies be preserved (as long as they are in someone else's mouth and not their own--Did you ever notice that the most vocal environmentalists are rich kids or adults who don't have to live off the work of their own hands?)

I mentioned my anxiety about the drill to the dentist. He tried to humor me. He's a really good guy. "This drill bit is often called the whiner." I wanted to whine. "Some call this drill bit the jack-hammer." Despite the lidocaine I can feel the heat of the drill in my root nerve. Is it my imagination or is that a small spiral of smoke rising from my mouth.

I had to set a good example for Clara. She was sitting right there in the corner of the room. I prayed. I breathed deeply. I tried to be calm.

Finally, the dentist had completed his genocidal eradication of the bacterial civilization. He had destroyed all their art and architecture and wiped every civilian-bacillus out. The dental technician had Clara come over to assist during the filling. Clara kept the suction going while the tech filled, scraped, and washed.

And I was done.

Clara hadn't noticed my anxiety. Whew. Then it was Clara's turn for her extraction. She got NOx (a popular recreational drug in the early 1900s and also used today as an enhancer to race car fuel). I chose not to have it because in my previous experience all I got was to laugh while I hurt and was bothered. In the end, I hoped to "take it like a man." I am such a wimp.

Clara was so much better than I was. I didn't take any photos of the dentist slowly rotating her tooth with the extraction pliers. She put on a good show with the lidocain and laughed during the extraction. Finally there was the gristly snap and pop and her tooth was out.

We paid the bill. The receptionist reminds me of Annette Funicello during her Beach Blanket Bingo days.

I got Clara home before 11am so she could go with the Mary and the other kids over to visit Laura DeR's family.

I stayed home and did some work until the lidocaine wore off. I had lunch, late, and needed to rest a bit.

In the evening I had a meeting, went home and had read-aloud time and devotion with my family, came back here to the office to finish off some work.

I'm still sick, but doing much better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"I'm not dead yet."

I've had the flu. Still do, in fact. Last week Sat (Nov 17), I had to cancel services at Mt. Olive. On Sunday morning I could be long enough without the need of a rest-room, so I held services, but I used the Office of Prime. I was very weak.

Monday came and we had this winkel down in Audubon. Mary drove. Pr. Stafford came with us. Most of the time I was head-achey, chills, and ready to pass out. But it was an important meeting.

Being sick makes concentration for writing sermons much harder. From Sunday the 18th to Sunday the 25th there were 10 services at which I preached. By Wed evening my voice was starting to be affected by this virus. We used Compline and Prime for Thanksgiving services.

Mom, Dad, and Jeremy came on Thursday afternoon and we had our Thanksgiving celebration.
Mom and Donna sleeping in the rocker. I'm glad Mom could relax some during this trip. I know there were worries about weather and such. But Donna sure feels comfortable with her.




John and Stella were helping Mary out with the cooking. Of course, when you help out, it means that you get to taste too, doesn't it?

Mom, Dad and Jeremy were able to stay until Saturday afternoon.


Clara tried to hog Grandpa any chance she could. I don't think Grandpa was complaining.

Jeremy seems to be doing well in school. So on Friday, he, grandpa, Matt, and I went to TRF so Jeremy could buy his first computer.

The gang at Northern Lights Bookstore gave us a great deal on a color monitor ($FREE--can't beat that). And Jeremy bought a fairly decent machine with his money. Not an expensive top of the line machine, but one that will work and that he could afford.

Of course, he wanted to play with it from the time we got it home. I said, "No." We set it up. I downloaded some security and safety software. He packed it up.


Saturday I had a very sore voice. We used Prime at Mt. Olive. No Saturday School. Kids were gone.

Mom, Dad, and Jeremy went back home in the late morning. Mary and I went to Mavis' birthday party in the afternoon (just a brief visit.)

Sunday my voice was still pretty raw. I did the full services, but without singing. I made it through, but I was so tired and sore. Shirley L told me to go to the Dr.

Monday I went and got a flu shot, and deposited the check.

Tuesday, throat still very sore, voice almost nil. Rest. Cleaned up a room in the basement; did some work on sermon (1st Sunday in Advent, you know, a whole new church year!!!!)

We got snow on Monday. A nice coating. This morning (Tues) I took Louisa and Matt out hunting sharptail grouse, no joy. Well we've got three more mornings to get some.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Borax

The old timers figured out quite a few good things. This is a bit of my tangent on self-sufficiency, but this tangent is more realistic.

Borax is as old as history. Our first encounter with it as a family was when we lived in Madison, WI. We had a problem with a weed called Creeping Charlie. When I asked my old neighbor why his yard didn't have any he told me to wet the lawn down and sprinkle Borax lightly on the Creeping Charlie. Wait a few weeks and repeat if needed. Our Creeping Charlie was gone with half a box.

I liked the stuff.

I remembered in High-School Chemistry that we made a glass bead of Borax to test for different elements. That was really cool at the time. And when we lived in North Mankato, MN, a friend (Andy B.) and I made a few beads with the help of our gas stove. (Andy likes swords too.)

I remembered having fun with this stuff.

Also, when we lived in Madison, a friend of ours had a science project day with the kids. One of the things she did with them is make Silly Putty with Borax.

I liked the stuff even more.

Our second year up here in Northwestern MN, we inherited 2 kittens. We weren't aware of any problems at the time. But after a few weeks we had fleas all through the house. I called exterminators for an estimate. This parsonage is big. And they wanted a lot, a LOT of money. Plus, we'd have to be out of the house for several days with an infant and small children.

I did some research. There were two old-time solutions, diatomaceous earth, or Borax. Borax was cheaper. And it got rid of the fleas within 3 days. I spread some out a week later in case any fleas hatched out. The total cost for the project $18. And I still have 2 boxes left over. It didn't get rid of the fleas only. Every bug was gone. Everything. No silverfish, no spiders, no centipedes or millipedes, nothing. I found later that Borax can eliminate cockroaches. If only I'd known that when we lived in Chicago.

In blacksmithing Borax is used as a flux between pieces of iron or steel when the smith wants to hammer weld the pieces together.

There are a lot of uses for Borax. The Wacky Uses website has many.

And you know that Tarro stuff that you buy to kill ants? It's Borax and Corn Syrup. That's all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Odd Tangents

Tangents are lines that touch a circle or an ellipse at one point. In three dimensional geometry a tangent plane intersects a sphere at one point. You can find more than you ever wanted to know about 2 dimensional geometry tangents at Wikipedia.

A Tangent in conversation is a diversion that might intersect the ongoing conversation at one point and be totally irrelevant to the whole rest of the context that is taking place among friends.

That's the way my mind works.

Actually, my mind works three tangents away. Imagine a circle that represents a conversation. My mind works off the tangents of this conversation and constructs another conversation that I may have had with other people at another time, or which may just be in my head. From that second (non-current) conversation my mind takes tangents to a third hypothetical conversation's context and extrapolates a tangent from that.

What this means is that I say some really stupid stuff during conversations that, to any reasonable person, seem totally out of context.

But there are a few people I've met who can follow each of these tangents in their own minds. And if the pick-up is quick enough, the two of us have a nice laugh while the rest look at us as if we're from Mars.

So, here are my tangents this evening.

The first tangent is for a man named Kim.

Take a look at this website. This is what I hope to do before next October. But I still need to tool up for the job. I won't do the fancy stuff, because I'm incapable. But just making the tomahawk heads should be straightforward. I did quite a bit of anvil work when I was in high-school. My parents' home and barn has enough scars in the posts from the swords I made back then. (Sorry, Mom and Dad).

The second tangent has to do with my many years of competition and teaching martial arts. Somebody has put together a website with some wonderful information to demythologize martial arts. The nice thing is that they don't just pick on eastern martial arts. Everything is fair game. Mary found this site when she was looking for information on handgun stances.

The third tangent is that I'd like to recommend to you my friend, Bruce Gee's blog. When Mary and I lived in Madison, WI, during my graduate courses in Hebrew and Semitic Studies, we attended Grace Ev. Lutheran Church. Jesse Jacobsen (author of The Plucked Chicken) was our pastor. (Jesse is now pastor in Oregon at Bethany Lutheran in The Dalles, and Concordia Lutheran, Hood River Bruce and his family were also members there at that time. Bruce has a wonderful family and a keen mind. His mental fomentations are well worth reading. Even if you don't know him or his family, his reports are always entertaining. And when he writes on theology he is one of the most eloquent writers I've had the privilege to read. He calls his blog "Pagans and Lutherans." The title reflects his own experience in coming to faith.

The fourth tangent has to do with a vain personal wish. I have been practicing Iaido with a wooden bokken for several years. I've often desired to buy a real katana. But I've not done so because, unlike a handgun, you can't remove the firing pin or put a gun lock on a sword. I've read about experienced swordsmen who have severely cut themselves by accident. And, heck, a real, folded steel, genuine, made the traditional way, katana costs $$.$$$. But maybe I could make one? And so this blacksmith website has a good bit of tonic to keep me in check.

And then, there is the fifth tangent, self-reliance. Homesteading and survival, living off the land, being a pioneer, no dependence on anyone, being "off the grid" has a strong appeal to me. I read a lot of fiction like "My Side of the Mountain" when I was a kid. So I get beans and some supplies from farmers in the area. Problems? I like my computer and the net--I rely upon these tools for a great deal of my work; though, really, I can do it without them. For my work I need my car and gasoline. This implies a heavy reliance upon world economics. The nearest grocery store is 13 and half miles away. Gardens, when depended upon for survival, require more space and more time than our family is able to deal with. Our winter heat depends upon natural gas and a working electric grid. Our kitchen is entirely dependent upon the electrical grid. The meaning? I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to self-reliance.

Tangents are good, as long as they are kept in check. Mary is very good at keeping my tangents in check. I'm so glad that God put us together.

Now, if the kids would just go to sleep when it's bed time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, Monday, baa-da-da, baa-da-da-da

This evening there was a nice sunset and moonset. My camera is not really good, but this is what I got from it.

I loose track of all the household fixup/honeydoo jobs I did this week. I remember getting high off of fiberglass resin to fix a handle on the oven. I remember the stink of cat poop under the workbench.

Several doors fixed, anyway.

Today was probably our last nice warm day of the year. Mary and I went for a walk this evening to enjoy it. We look forward to spring when we can do it again. But now we brace for winter.

And part of bracing for winter is practicing Christmas Hymns.

This is what it looks like in our house when the kids sing "O Come, All Ye Faithful!"

Only three of the kids fit into the frame, but all of those able to, were dancing and singing at the top of their lungs.

What a wonderful noise.

They're going to complain when they see this photo posted here. But I wanted to share my enjoyment of my kids when they are singing a Hymn about their Savior's Birth.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nolan's Baptism

Today we celebrated Nolan L's baptism at OP.

Dad and Mom are in this photo with Nolan. There were so many pictures after the service that Nolan was getting more than a little ticked off at the attention. He just wanted to eat.

It was nice to have so many of the family here today. After the service there was a dinner held in honor of Nolan's baptism.



So many people stayed to celebrate. It was a wonderful time. Please keep Nolan and his family in your prayers.