Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Through a mirror, dimly; then, face to face

Mable went to heaven this evening, around supper time. This afternoon I took Jeremy to TR and dropped him off to do some school shopping while I went to Mable and her family.

When I got to Mable, her family was in the sun room, so I left them alone and talked to Mable, said some prayers, recited some Psalms. She was unresponsive. Her hands were starting to loose resilience. She had the deep gurgle of pneumonia. She looked at me. And I thank God that He works through His Word regardless of our abilities-regardless of our state.

I met with her family and we discussed what might happen and planned some things for her funeral. God would choose how soon. Not us.

I picked up Jeremy. Well, actually, I found him playing a video game with only half of his purchases found. So we went through the store and filled out the list.

During supper the nursing home called. "Yes, I can be there in 45 minutes."

Mable passed away. She's home now with our Lord. Glenn, Ione, Linda, Edward and several others were there when she went home.

A week ago Friday she was diagnosed with this aggressive cancer. Twelve days later she is at peace.

At supper, before I left, all the older kids wanted to come along to the nursing home to be with Mable's family. I told them, "No." But that I'd tell the family that they all wanted to come. I forgot to tell them.

I met the family around Mable. I went to get Mavis (she's on a different floor) and we prayed the Litany, I sang "My Heart Is Longing" (ELH 61), and we shared stories of fun times and Mable's funny quirks. Then we said farewell until Friday, and I took Mavis home.
Almægtige og evige Gud, du, som har villet at din Søn skulde bære for os korsets lidelse, at du kunde frigjøre os fra den onde fiende; Hjælp os at komme ihu og takke for vor Herres lidelse, at vi kunne faa vore synders forladelse og genløsning fra den evige dødæ ved den samme vor Herre Jesus Kristus. Amen
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast willed that Thy Son should bear for us the pains of the cross, that Though mightest remove from us the power of the adversary; Help us to remember and give thanks for our Lord's passion that we may obtain remission of sin and redemption from everlasting deat; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Mable's family will be planning her funeral tomorrow with the funeral home. I already have most of what I need for the service. My children want to sing "Children of the Heavenly Father" for her family. The text will be I Cor. 13:11-13:
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
At this point it looks like there will be visitation on Friday evening at the funeral home in TR with the funeral late Sat. morning.

I'm going to be gone Thursday. Mary, Stella, Donna and I are taking Jeremy down to my folks place so he can attend Echo Charter School. We won't get back until the middle of the night, early Friday morning. Friday will be filled with getting the funeral service bulletin and hymn sheets ready, writing the sermons for the funeral and visitation, memorizing the sermons for Saturday morning worship at Mt. Olive, the visitation, and the funeral. And I will probably need to go see Mable's sister, Laura, in Warren in the late afternoon.

I've got the Bible Lesson plan done for Sunday School, but I'm only part way through the Catechism and Hymn memorization parts of the plan. I know, I know, I should have used the summer better. But this summer hasn't exactly been slow.

Please keep us in your prayers for a safe, uneventful trip tomorrow (10 hrs in child car seats for Stella and Donna). And please keep Mable's family in your prayers. Mable's family is not the only family going through this kind of tragedy.

Take a listen to last sunday's sermon (Trinity 12) at top left link on this blog. When I was planning sermons, outlines, and hymns I had no idea that this would happen at this time. I plan three years out for regular Sunday services. I know that unless I'm sick or dead that the next weekend will come around, so there is no point in not planning ahead. And I never know when these unexpected emergencies or events will come up and force me to adjust my schedule. So I plan well ahead for regular worship. Last Sunday's theme hit home in almost every family.

Mable's will be the 14th funeral that I've had since the beginning of the year. I'm thankful that I've not had to bury any young people or suffered through multiple burials during an epidemic. I don't know how our forefathers were able to pick up and go on through such great tragedies. And I pray that I don't have to find out through personal experience.

Corella (who's mother, Gertrude, I buried this spring) wrote:
Thank you for your blog writings.
Appreciating my memories of the strengths of Mable and Leonard.
Thankful that you are ok after your very near encounter with lightening. I was monitoring the NW MN weather on websites and tv channels during the Sunday evening watch.. I read *six miles east of Highlanding* and also some location relative to Roland I believe it was. I like that the weather data still uses the reporting site names that I remember from childhood however have mostly disappeared in reality.

Corella, Thank you for your email. I haven't checked in on Leonard since last Saturday. I've got Howard and Sylvia watching out for him. Thanks for your concern about our weather. Perhaps concern for my stupidity in taking an aluminum tripod out into a lighting storm might be misplaced. I'm a slow learner on some things. And, yes, it is interesting that the Nat'l Weather Service uses geographic references that have disappeared a generation ago. But I'm glad they use them. It is easier to know that I have to have my family duck-and-cover if they say Roland rather than x miles north and east of Oklee.

Here's something interesting too, click this link to see a satelite montage of Roland with our place 2.5 miles north. Roland is still labeled, even though it's been gone for many years. You can even zoom in to see Oak Park, the parsonage, and my grandparent's camper in the yard last year. This is kind of freaky.

I've looked up some of the readers of this blog through google maps. If I have your net address I can get a reasonably close look at your neighborhood. If I know a name, I can even get a sat picture of your home.

So, how many of you readers are going to look yourselves up on google maps now?

Good night, got a lot of driving tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mavis and Monday

This first photo is of Mavis holding Donna on Saturday when Mary and I took Donna to see Mable. While we were in the Thief River Care Center we also went to see Mavis.

Mavis doesn't like this photo because she has her oxygen tubes on. And she scolded me for taking the picture. But I wanted you to see Mavis. And I wish I had good photos of all my members, but I don't. I'd like to write about all of them.

Some time I should also write a nice post about the wonderful job the Congregational Janitors do. Never under appreciate what the janitors do for a congregation's building.

Monday was a day of rest for me. Mary took all the kids except Jeremy with her to Grand Forks to do some shopping. Jeremy and I cleaned, read; Jeremy did homework; I did some computer maintenance; both Jeremy and I worked together today.

I've made stir-fried rice about 4 or 5 times before today. Today I got it right. What that means is that I didn't burn the rice or mess up any of the other ingredients and the result tasted great.

Jeremy and I ate a lot. But Mary and the others didn't get home till later.

After they did get home I remembered that Matt had invited Briley S. to go with to GF and stay the night. I made a joke when I first saw Briley "Hey! who's that? Did you get him at the dollar store? He's not new, he must be second hand." Briley was nice and smiled at the joke. OK, I was lame in my joke. A

At bedtime there was a tree frog on the window at our door. It is peculiar place for a tree frog to hide since it is 3 feet off the ground and just above a door knob-- it's nowhere near a safe place. But there it was.

After devotion the kids watched "Thunder Pants" again. Louisa has a crush on Rupert Grint. She's going to go ballistic when she sees that I put this in the blog. Ha!

We had devotion and let the kids finish the movie. Matt has to go to work in the morning, and so do I.

After we had the kids into bed I worked on another couple of bows. Here's a photo of the sapling bow I'm shaping right now. The yellow ruler is 3 feet long.

I got a message from J.D. Duff in Oregon. He's a bowyer. He's hoping to send me a good bow stave for an English Longbow fairly soon. JD is well known in the profession of bowyering. And I thank him for his kindness and consideration.

I trimmed out the Ash sapling bow and the handle area. There is a bit of a hinge in the lower limb, but I worked the stave a bit tonight to remove the hinge. It looks pretty good now. So now I start tillering.

Mable and Sunday's Storm

Sunday I held worship at St. Petri, Nazareth, and Oak Park. Communion services were held at the first two. Late in the afternoon Louisa and I went to see Mable and her family. We had devotion.

Mable's cancer is attacking very fast. She does not have much time left. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

Louisa and I watched the storm coming when we went home.

The first two photos are from the same lightning strike. It was after dark. And after this lightning strike our power was out for a little over 2 hours.

In the first photo you can see how brightly the lightning lit up the area.

In this second photo you can see the same bolt of lightning as it came down just on the other side of Oak Park. Digital cameras are great, except for the delay from pushing the button until the photo is taken. But there are other things that make up for this.

I had an aluminum tripod for my camera. And I had goose-bumps, the hair on my neck stood up, I purd-neer peed my pants, my ears hurt, and I fell to the ground after this strike. Yeah, I was scared. I decided that standing by an alumninum lightning rod was not such a good idea during a storm like this and went up to the house.

We were in a tornado watch. So I stayed up until the watch was done.

But I kept taking photographs of the storm.

I have several sets of double A rechargeable batteries for my camera and whatever else needs AA batteries.

I went through them all and two SD memory cards taking pictures. Most of them were just black. But some turned out spectacularly.

Of course, the spectacular photo is what one hopes for. I also had taken some video and have saved some of the video as photos to show them here.

Off to the west it looked like there might have been some rotation of clouds. The lightning that direction was more diffused and red. The clouds more formidable.

I didn't move the kids into the basement during the watch. There was only a short time, about 45 minutes until it was done.

And there was plenty of light from the lightning to show me what the clouds near us looked like. So I let them sleep. It would be interesting to hear from my members as to how many of them slept through this storm without knowing of the tornado watch, or else, who watched the beauty of the lightning strikes.

The basket ball backboard in these photos is on our parking lot at Oak Park. You can get an idea of the scale from the last one. The photos were taken about 90 feet from this basket ball backboard at the swing-set by Oak Park. In the first photo you can see the swing set. For the last three photos I put the camera on the platform on the left above the slide in the first photo above. I kept snapping photos and hoping for the best. Most were just black. But a few turned out rather nice, I think.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Several Sad Things

Friday and Saturday had good highlights. I don't want to dismiss those moments. Waking up early to see the sun rise, smelling the fresh air on two beautiful mornings. Of course, my seeing the sun rise has more to do with how late the sun is starting to rise than how early I get up. But I have often stopped to look around and take in with all my senses the beauty of God's creation these past few days. Having a new baby to care for can put one in the mind to do this. So can having some very sad things happen.

Sad thing number 1. Leonard R is in Midway care center. He's over 90 years old. He has a trailer house in Trail. I got a call that he had been put into the nursing home. So I went to see him. From what I could gather in our conversation he had fallen down in the ditch opposite from his trailer home. He had lain there for a long time trying to flag down someone to help. His left shoulder is injured, the nursing home staff have him wear it in a sling. Leonard's back is bent double when he sits down. He looks like an old man folded in half mid-way up his back. He wants to go back home. But given what happened and his current state, the question is, is he endangering himself more by being home? I think Leonard is the last of his siblings to live at home. His brother Harold passed away a year ago July. Harold had lived at home until about 8 months before he died. Please keep Leonard in your prayers.

Sad thing number 2. Mable H's cancer is very aggressive. She's not really able to eat at all any more. She hardly takes moisture. Mary and I visited her today with Donna. Some of her family was there. They have someone there pretty much all the time now. She can't really communicate much any more. I sang a hymn to her in Norwegian, and read to her from the Gospel of John. Mable was one of the first person to greet me in Norwegian when I came to this parish. The night we arrived we came through a blizzard. Nov. 24th, 2001. It was a terrible trip. But when we got here we'd found most of our stuff had been unloaded and put in order, and dinner was waiting for us at the church. Mable was sitting at the second table near the entrance.

She said, "Yah, It's good to see you."

I could tell by her strong accent that she grew up speaking Norwegian, so I tried, "Hva heter du?"

"Oh!" she cried, "Han snakke norsk! Jeg heter Mable. Hvordan stor de til?"

"Bare braa, tak."

Mable was one of the chief culprits in getting our kids all sugared up on Halloween. She always had too much to give to the kids. And she was concerned and prayed for her own children and grandchildren.

We talked many times at her place.

When she fell and broke her hip last February (see "Taxes and Mable") she was no longer able to live at home. But she was a very active community member at the nursing home. Her hip healed quickly and she was up and around visiting everyone. Her husband was paralyzed in an accident early on in their marriage and she cared for him until he died in 1979. Add into this working a full time job and raising wonderful children (whom I am privileged to have as members of my congregations and as my friends).

Anyway, it hurts to see her in this condition. It always hurts. But the hurt is tempered by confidence. Look back across the posts since January in this blog and you can see both the pain of sin in this life and the joy of salvation in Christ. Adeline, Ragna, Ray, Verner, Thora, Evelyn, Hilda, Patricia, Edwin, Carl, Bernice, Ernest, and others who went before just this year.

What does a pastor do the rest of the week when worship is done on Sunday. Sometimes he just cries. It's ok. I read that to Mable today. "Jesus wept." John 11:35. It was because of the grief that sin causes to those He loves. He didn't really cry because his beloved friend Lazarus had died. He wept because of the pain that this death had caused to those who loved Lazarus. The grief and pain of sin, which He came to give his life so that we will have relief from this pain and grief. That's why I say that the hurt is tempered with confidence.

Please keep Mable and her family in your prayers.

The third sad thing. This one is not so sad, it's more of a lark and a rant. If you've been following the Michael Vick case through the alternative media (i.e., conservative talk radio) I've got some questions for you. First, what in Sam Houston's name is going on? These conservative talk show hosts usually are for private property rights, personal freedom, limiting government intrusion into private life, and protecting the liberty of U.S. citizens.

OK, first, I agree, that if the law says X, the law should be followed, unless it is contrary to God's word. If I disagree with a law that says X, (Even if it isn't in conflict with God's Word) as a U.S. citizen I have the right to work to have it changed, which includes -primarily- speaking about it.

Do animals have rights? Should a human who is a citizen of the U.S. be deprived of life, liberty, property, or honor because of how he disposes of his own private property?

I slaughter many animals every year. Today I killed a couple dozen houseflies, a few crickets, and several moths. I've killed and eaten different kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish. I eat meat every day. This means that the death of a mammal that once roamed the range. What's the qualitative difference between all these different kinds of animals? I ask that with respect to morality. Is there any moral difference between the slaughter of one form of animal versus another? Well, not really.

Do animals have rights or are they property? OK, I'm going to make a jump in argumentation here. I'm going to assume that everyone reading this knows that animals (though some are cute, cuddly, affectionate, relatively smart, and good to have around) animals are not people, they are either wild or the property of a person.

I can love my possessions. I can love them so much that I sin against my neighbor by loving my possession more than my neighbor. But God's Law applies to me loving my neighbor as myself. I'm not to covet or take his property, nor am I to usurp his authority or cause him any harm.

But these talk show hosts are willing to put Vick in jail because he destroyed his own property. On this issue they sound like communists.

I know, I know; it's the sad-eye cuddly factor. The more cuddly the animal and the more sad-eyed it can look the more people are willing to place it as property above human life and honor.

While these talk show hosts (not all, but quite a large number) boast of being conservative in their philosophical, political, societal, and legal opinions, they are bleeding heart-government intrusive-I'm gonna run your own life cause you don't know what's good for you-liberals when it comes to dogs and cats (probably even more animals).

I wish they could get out of the city and actually have to live off the land for a while. One can respect, care for, love, and nurture animals while loving one's neighbor in general accordance with God's Law (though not perfectly because of sin). I might be sad that my neighbor does something to his animal. I might be tempted to think it cruel. But the animal is his property. And no matter how covetous I can be, no matter how self-righteous I can be about how I would treat my own animals, I dare not besmirch my neighbor's name or seek his harm when he has done what he wants to his own property.

So, I probably ticked some readers off with this. Sorry. But I will defend your rights with respect to your property-as long as it is within God's Law. So, I will not seek to have you harmed or your property seized from you because you did something that I wouldn't do. Nor will I besmirch your character to others. It's your dog, it's your cat. It's your horse. Even if you want to eat them, that's fine.

Just invite me to supper on a different day. Please.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fake Paul Harvey Bong Commercial: Over the Edge

This is the first "Over the Edge" post.

This post is designated as "Over the Edge" because many people will question whether it was appropriate or moral to write such a post. The point of this post, and all such "Over the Edge" posts in the future is to point out with extreme irony, and hopefully, humor, how humanity is base and sinful. This is done so that we can come to grips with our nature and deal with how truly pathetic we are. So, here's this "Over the Edge" story:

I know a lot of people listen to Paul Harvey's news, notes, and "The Rest of the Story." I've enjoyed his journalism throughout the years.

Several years ago (in the early 1990s) I heard a fake news item from Paul Harvey. The impersonation is great. The contrast of content is, at least in my view, extremely humorous.

I had quite a few friends, classmates, co-workers, and acquaintances who were tragically addicted to marijuana and other mood altering drugs.

When President Clinton announced "I tried it, but I didn't inhale," he ushered in a new generation of depravity (along with his other moral problems). A great irony in the late 1990s was that the Chronicle for Higher Education did a survey which found that Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign worked! But as soon as Bill Clinton opened his mouth about his marijuana use, all her work was destroyed. And another generation of kids thought that it was socially acceptable to use mood altering drugs.

T.D. Mischke, a radio talk show host out of Milwaukee, played a fake Paul Harvey news item in the early 1990s that summarized, with sarcastic wit, the stupidity of marijuana use. Here's a recording of the snip. (By the way, this link will keep repeating the fake broadcast until you leave it.)

Please remember that Paul Harvey never did this, nor would he endorse this. The irony and idiocy of using such drugs is borne out by the examples in the fake news item.

Nonetheless, it makes me laugh to hear such a good and believable imitation of Paul Harvey do this commercial.

I hope it can make you smile while realizing the seriousness of the problem.

God Bless

A Haiku: Pistachios

Gift of God on High
Is this tasty crunchy nut,
But I'm getting fat.

School Shopping: Clothes

Louisa and Elsie gave me a gift certificate to Kezar Music for Father's Day (By the way this is the best music store in Northwestern Minnesota). It was such a thoughtful gift. I think their mother had something to do with the choosing of it. So I took Louisa and Elsie with me, though not Mom.

We came to TR to make bank deposits, to redeem my gift certificate, to get clothes for Jeremy for school, and to get some groceries.

So what did I get at Kezar Music? A CD full of bluegrass renditions of Van Halen tunes called "Strummin' with the Devil." As a teenager of the 1980s, Van Halen was a pretty big influence, and AC/DC, and many, many others. I have Hayseed Dixie's bluegrass tribute to AC/DC. You can find Hayseed Dixie recordings at the Internet Archive.

Wow! This should freak out readers. Man! A Confessional Lutheran Pastor listens to this kind of music? Well, I like a wide variety of music, from Gregorian Chant to SAVAE's Distant Echoes, Michael Hedges, Mylon LeFevre, Petra, Bach, Scarletti, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Waylon, Willie, Johnny, Marty Robbins, Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, Metallica, Whoopie John Willfahrt, Prince, Tanya Tucker, Django Reinhardt, Francesco Tarrega, Fernando Sol, Luis Milan, Kitaro, Dana Berger, Bruce and the Mechanics, George Straight, Faith Hill, The Boys from the Lough, U2, Lick the Tins, Scott Joplin, Janice Joplin, The March Violets, etc., etc.............

I hope that no one is offended by this variety, or by the particulars. I like "The Man with the Big Iron on His Hip," "Ghost Riders," "In Heaven There is No Beer," "I Don't Want Her, You Can Have Her...," "When Doves Cry," "The Cowboy and the Poet," "Pastorale," "Sonata 32," and soooo many others.

It's fun to have some of the music of my youth presented in a style that is so antithetic to the original style, except for the point that Bluegrass and Heavy Metal are two of the most demanding forms of music in speed and precision in performance. Of course, people who don't like Heavy Metal cannot appreciate how closely it is related to the Classical music of Beethoven, Scarletti, and Bach.

Well, that's way more on my music preferences than I thought I'd write. I hope you enjoy the samples at the sites I had links to above.

So, I got my CD.

But I forgot to use the gift certificate. Rats! Well, I can use a music stand. Perhaps I'll use it as partial payment on a music stand.

Joe Kezar, the owner of Kezar Music, keeps such a beautiful array of plants throughout the growing season. I had Louisa and Elsie sort of pose amidst the nice flora Joe and his mother keep around the music store. Milo, one of Joe's employees, has done most of the searching and ordering for my odd and eclectic taste in music.

After Kezar's we went to Northern Lights Bookstore. There I bought several shirts for Jeremy for his coming school year.

Jeremy is going to attend Echo Charter School this year. For Jeremy, it's kind of like going off to Hogwarts, but in stead of it being a Magic School, it's a school that will challenge him where he needs to be challenged. Plus, my folks are going to afford him room and board. As anyone who has sent their child(ren) off to school away from home, you know how much this means. So, Jeremy will live in the house that I grew up in, with my parents. This probably makes him a statistic of one of those sociological surveys that evaluates how many children are raised by their grandparents. Whatever.

I know many of the staff at that school and have known them for several years. I trust that whatever Jeremy's eccentricities they can work with him and whip him into shape so that he can have the skills he needs to do what God has placed him here to do.

Well, after all, we went to Northern Lights to get some clothing for him. One of the items was a gaudy, weird, and huge sweater. Louisa, Elsie, and I though-with much mirth- that Jeremy might like it. Kind of in the style of the Christmas Sweater that Ron Weasley received (though the character, Ron, hated it). Jeremy loved it and appreciated the humor of the gift.

We also got several books, and a few CDs, including "Markahuasi: Traditional and Contemporary Music of the Andes" (Here's a site that can give you a flavor of the music, sorry if you can't read Italian, but the MP3s should give you a good example); and Twila Paris' Christmas albumn "its the thought," along with "Te Black Mountain Male Chorus of Wales."

Now, try to peg my personality based on musical style. Dare ya.

One additional thing we bought for 50 cents. A clown outfit that would fit Stella. My original thought was that the outfit would make a great kite.

But Stella loves it. Once we showed it to her she would hardly take it off.

We also got several gifts to be used for birthdays and Christmas presents.

After groceries, we went home. I worked on SS schedules. And, I suppose, that is what I should be doing more of now. So, I'll sign off and try to finish off one of the schedules.

Good night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Matt's Big Fat Greek Birthday

Matt was born in 1994. That makes him 13 today. We asked him, "Matt, what do you want for your birthday dinner?"

He chuckled and said, "I think I'm a vegetarian. Vegetarians don't eat meat. So lets have lamb."

(He was making a reference to a scene in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding")

So I grilled lamb. Rib of lamb, to be precise. Some of our members gave us a lamb a while back. This was the last of it. And it was delicious. Thanks, Gene and Nancy. The lamb ribs were a nice present for Matt's birthday. And we've enjoyed all of it.

There was one uninvited guest at the party. I think this is an Ichneumon Wasp. I'm sorry, I didn't get a clearer picture. The thing kept taking off and flying around the dining room. When it came into the dining room everyone was eating cake and ice-cream. It flew in front of Louisa and she let out a nerve rattling shriek and almost belted Clara in the face trying to shoo the wasp away.

I'm so deranged at times. It was really an effort for me to keep myself from describing how this kind of critter lays its eggs and feeds its young, etc. Well, we were eating. I didn't want to gross everyone out.

Of course, we had a gift opening. The girls made some amazing birthday cards for Matthew. He's only 13 now, so he won't appreciate how unique, wonderful, and creative these cards are. Nor will he appreciate what kind of effort and joy goes into making them.

But he was fairly polite about the cards.

His haul was pretty good today. But the thing that grabbed his and Jeremy's attention the most was a movie that Mary picked up to give him for his birthday.

The movie is "Thunderpants." It's about a super-hero kid who's super-power is, ehem, flatus. It co-stars Rupert Grint (he plays Ron Weasley in Harry Potter) and Ned Beatty (who lives north of Thief River Falls now).

They were just drooling wanting to watch the movie tonight.

We told them no. Wait til friday.

Here's the card Clara made for Matt. It's about 7.5 inches by 5 inches, multimedia, crayon, tape, pen and pencil. The photo doesn't do it justice. It's really a nice piece. I think I'm going to get a frame for it.

Happy Birthday, Matthew. We are so glad that God has allowed you to be part of our family all these years. May you have many more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A couple more photos from Char and Dave's Visit

These are from Sunday. Louisa and Madeline decided to play "twins" and dressed up similarly for church. Just before the service they were goofing off and each was taking turns wearing Madeline's glasses.

"Wow, like, I couldn't tell them apart! Go figure?"

Then, of course we had the obligatory group shot photos after we ate so that we could have some memento of the time they spent with us.

So here are all 12 children that were in the house since last Wednesday.

John, Henry, Elsie, Madeline, Louisa (holding Stella), Clara (holding Grace), Sophie's little head sticking out between, Matthew (holding Donna), and Jeremy.

All in all a great visit.

And here are Dave , Jeremy, Donna, Mary, and Char.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Char and Dave's Visit

Char and Dave brought their kids, Madeline, Henry, and Grace to visit us. They came on Wedneseday. John, Sophie, Stella, Donna and I were out at the end of the driveway watching the neighbors harvest their grain. Through the dust and chaff drove in Char and Dave. Everyone made a bee-line for the house to greet them. Char and Dave are our kids' godparents. And, though they are not related, they are our family.

Mary had spent some time earlier on Wed. in Fosston to correct the information on Donna's Birth Certificate and her Social Security papers. I spent the time with the kids getting the house ready for guests.

Char and Dave's visit was a bit of opportunity. Dave had a short window of time off. And we are grateful that they could stay with us. They stayed through Sunday service at Oak Park so they could take part in Donna's public affirmation of her Baptism.

The days went so fast. We were so busy visiting and getting reacquainted with their children: playing with them and watching each of our kids play together.

Madeline and Louisa are the same age, as are Henry and Sophie, and Grace and Stella.

We had a multiple-birthday gift exchange the evening after they arrived.

That reminds me, we have one of Madeline's shirts, one of Henry's rockets (we're looking for another rocket-fin) and Grace's toy camera. We'll send them and anything else we find in a week or so.

Thursday we spend more time visiting. I worked on some SS/WS preparation and sermon writing. There were a few pastoral calls to deal with on Thursday as well.

Thursday evening was OP Ladies' Aid. They threw a shower for Donna. I held opening devotion, Dave held down the fort. Char came to Ladies' Aid and Mary brought Donna as the guest of honor. Someone went to a bit of work to make a nice cake for the occasion. Barb's mother came along to visit. It was nice to have her there as well. I hope she and Char enjoyed the meeting.

After devotion I cut out to go help Dave with the rest of the kids. Char, Mary, and I scarfed our supper down to get to the meeting in time.

At the meeting, Connie needed to talk to me. Her daughter-in-law had a miscarriage this afternoon. They had conceived twins. The first twin died a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't told about this at the time. And tonight, Thursday, the second twin died. This is Nate and Sara's third miscarriage. They have one daughter, Maya. She survived, but her twin and younger siblings did not. No one should ever take the birth of a child for granted.

It is amazing how interwoven, twisted, warped, and strange emotions can turn. I am so overjoyed by Donna's birth and so overwhelmed by Nate and Sara's loss. It is so comforting to know that God has all these things under His divine control. May God grant them healing through this difficult time. Please keep Nate and Sara in your prayers.

Friday I did more work on my sermon for the weekend. The girls were complaining that it was so hot, we should go swimming down at Lengby. I put them off till Saturday. Perhaps we should have gone on Friday, because Saturday turned out much cooler. But I needed to finish the sermon and have it memorized by Saturday morning.

I made some jambalaya for dinner. Jambalaya is a Creole word that means "In one pot." The full meaning is "left-overs." So I grabbed the black bean-dip Mary made for yesterday, cooked some rice, put in left-over sausage, added some spices with a pinch of curry, and some shrimp. Even Henry asked for seconds. Now that is high praise indeed.

I grilled Fajitas for supper. Not much remained of those either. But I must say that Fajitas are an extremely labor intensive dish when one considers serving 12 children: Tortillas, beef, onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives, salsa, sour cream, etc. Dealing with two tables and all the kids meant a lot of passing dishes throughout the whole meal. Next time I'll do something else. They tasted good, though. And grilling the peppers and onions over real charcoal added that je ne se qua to the flavor that made it more appealing.

Dave and I played a bit of guitar together and learned a few tunes today. (Warning, sarcastic self-deprecation follows:) Some day we're going to take the world by storm. Dave has these rockabilly roots, I've got these classical and heavy metal roots. Think of the money we could make if only we could get the notoriety that we deserve from the big recording giants. (Think "Spinal Tap" plus Buddy Holly, plus "The Folksmen" of "A Mighty Wind" and you get the idea of where we might end up). The problem is that we have to wait for our kids to get old enough to accompany us on our tours, and by that time we'll be 60 years old. We might be just as successful as Pat Boone's foray into heavy metal.

Friday night the kids watched Spiderman. The grown-ups talked.

Saturday I had worship, Sunday school and Confirmation class at Mt. Olive. Mary made a wonderful turkey dinner today. Not much was left.

Edwin O. called me soon after I got home. I needed to go to the hospital in TR right away. Mable H. (Edwin's mother-in-law) was diagnosed with an advanced stage of liver cancer last evening. The family was in a quandary about how to tell her. I met the rest of the family and we discussed the issue. Then we met with Mable in her hospital room. Here is pretty much what I said:

"Mable, your children and grandchildren are walking on eggshells right now. They are very afraid of the news they have for you. They love you very much, but they are afraid that what they have to tell you is so sad that you might be overwhelmed. This is what the problem is, Mable. You have a serious case of cancer, and it will probably take your life in the next few months. Your children and grandchildren all love you, but they don't know how to bring this news to you. They are so overwhelmed with sorrow that they cannot express how sad this makes them. Do you understand what I just said to you?"

There was a pause of about 10 seconds.

"Yes, I understand," she said. There was about 15 seconds of pause while she absorbed this news. She was on pain killers and that affected her reaction time. Usually Mable responds right away. But after the short wait she said something like, "They worry too much."

There was a great deal of conversation after this. Then Mable's doctor met with the family down in the chapel to discuss what should be done. Her cancer will probably take her life within a few months. She is a wonderful, and strong, woman. Please keep her and your family in your prayers.

I took Donna along so that Mable could see her. She'd asked about Donna the last time I visited her. I went to see the others in the nursing home attached to the hospital to inform them about Mable and to show Donna to them.

All in all this was a very hard time. But Mable has such a vibrant and strong faith. I hope to God I that He grants me as much confidence as He has given her in this time of adversity.

Donna and I got home a bit late. Dave, Char, Mary and our families had finished dinner (noon meal). Mary saved some turkey and pineapple for me.

After the turkey and the hospital visit we went to Lengby so the kids could swim. We stopped first in Fosston to get some supplies. It was 68 degrees in Fosston. The sky was very cloudy.

When we got to Lengby I started the charcoal with the wood shavings from my woodworking on my bows. Ash wood shavings are better than lighter fluid for starting charcoal. The coals catch on faster, there's no petroleum smell. It's wonderful.

While the charcoal was getting started, everyone went to the beach. We had it to ourselves. After all, the temperature was under 70 degrees. Any sane person would know that it would be too cold to swim today. But we are not sane.

I went off to do some fly-fishing. I caught about a dozen pan fish. I did catch and release. John and Dave came over while I was fishing. When the coals were ready, Dave started grilling the brats, sausage, and hot dogs.

As I said earlier, Friday actually would have been a better day to go to the beach. The very young kids touched the water and came back shivering. The young kids went into the water, splashed, and had their lips turn blue. The older kids enjoyed their time in the water, but kept stealing the towels and blankets from the others when it was time to eat. All in all, it was a great time together. And we enjoyed it.

We got home around 8pm. Some of the kids wanted a snack before bed. Char, Dave, Mary and I visited until pretty late. Of course, I had three services in the morning. I try to get to bed by 11:30 on nights before church. Oh well. We only get to meet each other once or twice a year. I got to bed at 1:30am.

I should interject a note on Betty B. here. Pr. Stafford visited Betty this week. She had some difficulty in normal conversation with her memory. But as soon as Pr. Stafford started devotion, Betty remembered everything. He gave her the Sacrament of the Altar. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to memorize and repeat the liturgy. Even if old age, disease, injury, and distress affect us to a great degree, what we have memorized and repeated, relived, and exercised will come back to us in the times of our frailty. Please keep Betty, Henry, their children, grand-children, and great grand-children in your prayers.

Sunday I decided to cancel this afternoon's Parish Board meeting because of good weather. The farming season is very short at our latitude. And good weather at this time of year means that the farmers must harvest their wheat and oats. The farmers work around the clock to get the harvest in. The parish board meeting can wait for a couple of weeks.

I had worship at St. Petri, Nazareth and Oak Park. At Oak Park we had Donna's Baptismal Affirmation. Mary held Donna. Jeremy served as witness with his mother and me. Dave and Char stood up as sponsors/guardians for Donna. During the service I asked that Mary, my kids, Char and Dave and their kids sit up in the front two rows. 15 people of various ages were up there. My young children are used to the back row where they are able to move around a bit, fall down, and actually be kids.

Christ's church is for all ages. This means that everyone in attendance knows that there will be some distractions during the service: crying babies, active toddlers, etc.... Well, my son John: he leaned too far forward and fell off the pew onto his head. He didn't cry too much. But he did look funny. And he began to laugh. Stella lay down on the floor between the pew and the organ. All in all it went pretty well. I try to write my sermons with enough varied repetition so that such distractions can be overcome and the parents and those around them can benefit. I'm not sure how successful my writing and delivery style are on this account. But I look forward to feedback from my members.

After service we had a hasty dinner so that Char and Dave could get on the road to go home. Grace was very nice in kissing Donna. I asked her to do it again and again so I could catch her in a picture. After each photo she had to come to look at the photo on the camera's display. This one was the best I got of the kiss to show Grace's face. Char and Dave's children are so sweet.

After Char, Dave and their children left our kids were bouncing off the walls. Full of energy from the visit, and full of sadness that the visit had come to an end they ran Mary and me ragged for quite a while. We finally got them to nap and play about 4pm. Mary and I watched "The Bourne Identity." We liked it.

I made supper: Slabs of left-over jambalaya broiled with onion and cheddar, topped with a bit of steak. It was a pretty good success. After devotion I came over here to post.

It took quite a while to write this post. I know it's long. Remember that it covers several days and quite a bit of joy and tragedy.

God be with you all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An Unusual Request

I had some kind of gluten reaction this morning. It delayed my getting to TR for visits. Early in the afternoon I got a phone call from the coordinator of Grygla's Fall Festival. She asked me something that I never ever imagined I would be asked. Would I be one of the co-grand marshals of their parade. They were asking each of the Pastors of congregations in the Grygla area. I thanked her and declined. The festival is on a day that I can't be there.

Me? Asked to be a grand marshal of a parade? Imagine that!

I took Sophie and John with to do some banking this afternoon. Matthew's got the grill started. This evening I'll do some more scheduling for SS and WS.

I think Mary wants to go the the Bourne Ultimatum in the theater. She bought The Bourne Files DVDs. I suppose I could watch the first movie with her tonight. It looks like it's an action movie. We haven't seen the previous two. Kids-in-Mind Rated them. The scale is 1 to 10, with 1 least-10 most. The first number rates Sex/Nudity, the second Violence/Gore, the third Profanity. The ratings take into consideration both the frequency and the nature of each thing measured.

Bourne Identity, The [2002] [PG-13] - 3.5.5
Bourne Supremacy, The [2004] [PG-13] - 3.6.5
Bourne Ultimatum [2007] [PG-13] - 3.6.4

Compare that with Wild Hogs that rated 4.4.4, Steve Martin's Pink Panther rated 4.4.2, Napoleon Dynamite 3.4.3

The Kids-in-Mind website is nice. It gives a full rundown of how they rate movies and what kinds of things take place in the movies.

Well, I better go see what the "could have been" grand marshal is going to grill tonight.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jonah's Birthday Party

Saturday I held worship, Saturday School, and Confirmation class at Mt. Olive. When I got home, around 11:30 we did some cleaning. We have a difficult decision to make for Jeremy. The decision is whether to keep him at home and send him to the Oklee Public School, or to send him to school at Echo Charter School. Each choice has several advantages and disadvantages. Keep us in your prayers as we make our own prayerful decision.

Sunday, after the 80 mile trek for three different worship services I finished up at Oak Park, had lunch (dinner, here) and took a nap.

At half-past three we left for Lengby. Jonah's 5th birthday is today. And we were invited to help celebrate.

What's the first thing a 5 year old wants to do on his birthday? Well, duh: Open presents, of course.

When Jonah found out that he'd have to wait to open his presents until after we arrived he asked if he could "uninvite" us. After being informed that he couldn't open his presents until after supper, because his cake couldn't be ready, he decided that we could be invited.

We got to Lengby around a quarter after four. I drove down to the park and saw that Kim and Barb, Jim and Tammy, Eldon and Dawn, Juell, and Annabelle and their families were all at the park. But the Jonah's family wasn't. We waved to everyone. I hope that the members of our parish who were at the park don't think we were too off putting. We knew we were late already for Jonah's party, and chose not to stop, but just to check out the park.

So, what does a congregation member think when his or her pastor drives through a park where they are having fun, but the pastor just waves and continues on, not to return as far as they know? Perhaps there is some relief. "Whew, at least he didn't stop and start talking. Man, that guy can talk. Can you believe how much that pastor talks?" Or perhaps there is some chagrin. "Doesn't the pastor want to be with us? Doesn't he want to talk with us? Doesn't he value us as members of the congregation?"

Should I have stopped to talk to everyone I knew? I admit, I feel some guilt about just waving and going on. But we came to visit Jonah and his family on his 5th birthday. So for those who were relieved that we drove through the park, I'm glad we could oblige you. For those who were chagrined, sorry, I didn't mean to offend. We were already late to Jonah's.

When we got to his place (You know that Lengby is such a large city, that it is hard to know where you are--sarcasm in the extreme since the population is 79) we released the troops from the van and overwhelmed the Staffords.

Pr. Stafford and I grilled corn, shish-kabobs and hot dogs for supper. Mrs. Stafford went to great effort to keep the meal gluten free. Thank you. It was a very good meal.

Jonah got to open his presents, blow out his candle, and eat some cake before we all went down to the beach.

By the time we got to the beach there were only a few people there. All the Clearwater Parish members had gone. Sophie found a snail and seemed very excited about her zoological prowess.

I did some fly fishing for about a half an hour and caught 5 decent sized Blue Gills and a couple Crappies. After getting the kids in from the lake we went back to the Stafford's. We had the kids pack up, say congratulations to Jonah, and went home.

Of course, not everyone was happy that such a nice day had come to an end. But the kids all slept well.

Monday I took as my day of rest this week. I read a bit of the new Harry Potter novel. I have to write something, some time, about the sanctimonious reaction against hard rock, Harry Potter, and other pop-culture phenomena. I like the books. And I like some of the movies. I read a disparaging review of the new book in Christian News. But it seems like the writer of that review gives way too much credit to the powers of Satan and way to little to his responsibility to represent the Bible or history accurately. Harry Potter is fiction. The movies are fiction. Even the witches of Shakespeare are fiction. And, all the new Wiccan inventions are fiction. It's not hard for my kids to know this. They can distinguish between Harry Potter and the Bible very easily. I know that we are to avoid misleading people into sin through their own ignorance of their freedom, But who is going to claim that Harry Potter, the Davinci Code, or any fiction book or movie has a great claim on the truth?

Maybe I should be more sensitive, but I bet those who would cry out against me for reading Harry Potter will watch the evening news or listen to some contemporary Christian radio programs--so much for their caring about honesty and integrity with respect to the Bible and truth.

Perhaps I'm a bit too strong in this post. Perhaps it will just go by some and they will wonder what I am writing about. If the latter is the case, just let it pass. It will pass. If the former is the case, there are two groups I would be addressing. First: my members; talk to me. Second: those who can't or won't talk to me-who probably are not my members--get a grip on what is essential and true. The Bible is your only source for truth. Excessive worry about what Satan does through other sources is exactly what he wants. Don't worry. Cast your cares upon Christ. Harry Potter is fiction. Treat it as that.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Con revisited with other stuff

Bud and Dorothy H. are long time friends of our family. Their daughter, Sarah, used to stay over at our place when my brother and I were in school. Dorothy sometimes worked nights at the Belview, MN nursing home. I haven't talked to them in years. But I love them as my own family.

Mom and Dad wanted some recent photos of Donna for Bud and Dorothy. I put them at esnips in my collection on Donna's birth. There are 7 new photos of Donna and the family at that link.

My cousin, Jenni, is going to be married in October. So that is when I plan to take a couple of weekends off. Mary and I have to do a bit of trip planning. I know it's going to make a bit of a mess with Wednesday School. But I do need a couple of weeks away this year. It has been quite busy.

And though I know that the shut-ins don't read this blog, I am telling all the sick and infirm that they do not have any permission from me to go to the hospital or die when I'm away. For all you blog readers (and there were over 1000 last month) my shut-ins and my congregation know my sense of humor fairly well at this point. I've been at these congregations longer than 50% of the pastors who have served them. So I'll announce to them that they don't have my permission to have any pastoral emergencies during this time. But they will know who they can call upon when I'm away.

Sorry for the fuzzy photo above. It was bed-time, and the kids were a bit excitable. They couldn't stand still very long. This was the best photo of the bunch I took with them standing. Jeremy, Matt, and Donna are not in the photo.

Sophie was doing her "kissy lips face" because she loves to kiss Donna. My lips don't do that. I can't close off my nostrils with my upper lip. She inherited that from Mary.

Anyway, the title of this post mentioned the Con from the other night. Well, I have some curious news. I called Mom tonight. She said that during their Ladies' Aid meeting Thursday evening (which started at 7pm) they received a telephone call from someone who called collect and said there was an accident and a death.

It looks like somebody found a list of ELS congregations and was dialing through the list to get money. I hope that the collect call wasn't really from some foreign place. One scam is to dial from a foreign country and get the mark (the sucker) to push the buttons for call forwarding. Then the con artist can make all kinds of calls to a different number on the congregation's phone bill.

Well, I'm all tuckered out for this evening. If you want the new photos of Donna and others, click on this line. They should be the first seven photos in the list.

Good night. Somebody remind me to tell everyone about my freaky dream the other night.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Betty, and Visits

A quick note about Wednesday, when we had guests: Laura was so kind and generous to bring dinner. Part of that was fresh baked buns. Of course, I couldn't eat those, so I put some of yesterday's hash-browns in the broiler for my starch.

The smoke and some shouts reminded me that I had put them in there. There were flames. Not really big ones, but the kids were certainly excited about it.

As I shooed kids away from the oven, grabbed a pot holder, Matt said, "I'll get some water!" "No water, I said." The burning wasn't so bad that I couldn't eat most of the potatoes.

I started blowing out the flames. "I've got the water!" shouted Matt. "No water!" I told him.

Louisa opened the doors and I took the pan outside. The kids were fanning the smoke alarms, which all of a sudden realized their duty to warn us.

The flames were out, I set the pan down on the concrete to cool.

SPLASH, soggy wet hash-browns all over the concrete. "I got the water!" said Matt.

GRRR. Well, he was trying to help. "Matt, I said, 'no water.' The fire was not so bad. I'd hoped to eat the good stuff after the pan had cooled." The sudden flood of cool water warped the pan.

Well, it was the kid's first oven fire. I did have another one in 1994 when a year and a half old Jeremy left a toy car in the broiler of our gas oven in Chicago. We found out after I'd started baking.

I scooped up the potato/grit/dirt sauce and threw it away; brought the pan back in. Opened the windows to evacuate the smoke.

"Just like home," said Laura.

I fried up a potato. The dinner was great, thank you, Laura. I hope the theater of the event wasn't too much.

Wed eve' Lonny called and said they'd had to take Betty to the Hospital this afternoon. Her memory is going and she's not taking it well. It's very hard on Henry. Lonny said that she's in the nursing home in Bagley this evening.

Thursday morning, Louisa and I went to see Henry, we took him to Bagley and had devotion with him and Betty. Betty didn't recognize me at first, but she asked Louisa right away about her new baby sister. We stayed until about noon and brought Henry home.

After dinner (noon meal in N. MN) Louisa and I went to do visits in Thief River. Evelyn was home, but Ruby's family moved her to Bemidji late last week. The move was rather quick, and we don't have an address yet. Ruby's memory is failing also. Her family wanted her close to them so they could check on her every day. Evelyn hurt her foot last week, rather severely, but she is doing better and is able to walk about--as long as she doesn't over do it. When we finished up devotion, Ray and Blanche stopped by to visit Evelyn, and another neighbor popped in for a bit.

Louisa and I went off to TRCC to have devotion with my shut-ins there. Annie was in the dining hall but somewhat incoherent today. I gathered Shirley and Mable into Mavis' room. Louisa claimed the bed and played with the features of the bed. One of Mavis' grandsons is getting married this weekend. She had to show Louisa her beautiful new blue dress for the wedding. Mavis' back is much better with these steroid treatments she's been receiving. She hopes to go to the wedding with just her walker and O2--leaving the wheelchair in the trunk of the car.

Mable is doing better now. Her illness seems to have passed. But she's walking a bit more delicately yet.

Shirley is able to walk with a walker now. Therapy has done really good things for her after knee replacement surgery. She's not dancing--yet. And therapy hurts quite a bit. She has problems with low chairs and couches. She's off the strong pain meds she had been given last week.

Please keep all our shut-ins in your prayers.

Louisa and I didn't get home until 7:30.

Just before we got home, Mary had received a frenetic collect telephone call from a man who claimed to have met me last week at church. She gave me the name. Well, we had no visitors at Mt. O, OP, Naz, or St. Petri. And the name was not of any of the guests at Nathan's baptism. He needed to speak with a pastor or someone because there was an accident and a death. Mary gave him the number of one of our deacons. The man said he'd call back.

He didn't call back.

When Mary told me this I suspected a con artist. One can never be too sure, perhaps the person and his story was legit about the accident and such but that he'd dialed the wrong pastor. It was a cause of some anxiety because we couldn't assume this was a con. But neither could we figure out any way to try to help.

Friday, Alyssa came to do the bulletin. We called the deacon to see what he knew. The deacon said he'd received two calls at that time in the evening from one phone number he didn't recognize. The deacon had been outside at the time and missed the calls. The first call was a hang-up. The second on the answering machine was the request to accept collect charges. The deacon called the number on his caller-id. It was a motel in Florida. But the motel didn't recognize the name.

A con.

For those who haven't had the privilege of this kind of con, here's how it works. The con artist needs to identify his "mark" --the sucker who will give him money. This con uses an immediate tragedy and plays upon the urgency and the possibility that his mark might mistakenly think he has some familiarity with the con artist. So the con artist looks up people who he thinks are charitably minded and might have too much on their plate to remember a recent name.

The phone rings:
"Hello, will you accept a collect call from (random name)?" (Con artist in the background says "there's been a terrible accident."

The mark accepts the charges.

"Hi, this is Random Name, there's been a terrible accident. I'm from SomeNearbyCity, and met you/your pastor last week when I visited your church. (voice all trembling) I'm calling on a police courtesy phone, there's been an accident, he's dead. Can I talk to the pastor?"

The mark can hear the sounds of traffic and street noise in the background because the con artist is using a phone next to a busy road. To the mark it sounds choppy, urgent, and vaguely terrible.

The con artist then says he's a t SuchandSuch location--which he already knows, would be impossible for the pastor to get to--and asks for some physical assistance, like a ride home and to borrow a car. Actually, the police will provide a ride home for someone in an accident if their family can't get them.

The mark, says he can't possibly get there.

The con artist asks for some money to be sent so he can afford transportation in the next week, until insurance comes through. The hope is to have some money mailed or wired to the con artist.

The address will usually be unrelated to the con artist--like a mail-box that he knows he can go through before the person who owns the mailbox gets home from work. The con artist has spent a total of 5 minutes on the phone, and can get $50 or more dollars per con.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Catch-Up and Guests

Wednesday I played catch-up with some of my office work. I have uploaded the last three weeks of sermons to the mypodcast site. The link to hear the sermons is on the top left of this page.

Tuesday I was sore, but not too bad, from my physical exertion in splitting wood. I felt like I should do some more harsh exertion, but I didn't listen to my body (and Wednesday morning the muscles in between my vertebrae told me how stupid I was for not listening to them).

My hair was too long. Stella and John could grip it an pull it. Since my 3rd year in College I've cut my own hair short with an electric clipper. My mom has told me that this short hair cut makes me look like I'm a concentration camp survivor. But I like my hair short. I don't care about the looks too much, just so that it's not offensive to my congregations. I have some doubts that my styles in college would fly too well here. I had grown my hair down to my shoulder blades in college and tied it back in a pony tail.

I remember one Thanksgiving break when I came home with my pony tail and Mom kept looking past my face to the pony tail seemingly wondering "What have I borne into this world?"

I've been letting the kids cut my hair in the past year. Part of the reason for this is to give them some knowledge and experience, another part is that it just feels nice to have someone cut my hair. Elsie did the main cutting today, but Clara and John wanted part of the action, so I let them have a few swipes at my head.

If the person doing the cutting moves the clipper too fast, well, it hurts. That's why Clara and John only got a few swipes. We trimmed the fuzzies on John's kneck after my haircut.

Elsie did a great job.

It was a late night finishing off some of the office work.

Wednesday we had guests. We were happy to have Laura D. and her children over. Thank you, Laura, for the lunch.

The kids played wonderfully well together. There was a bit of mischief with some spray paint, but we talked to my kids about their responsibility as hosts so that they won't look for trouble in the future.

Laura's family went home before supper.

Lonny called, his mom, Betty, is now in the nursing home in Bagley. She's having some severe troubles with her memory. I'll go see Henry and Betty in the morning and then go to TR to see some of the other shut-ins. Please keep Henry and Betty in your prayers

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Trip to Mom and Dad's

Sunday we had worship at St. Petri, Nazareth, and Oak Park. After worship I usually get home between 12:30 and 1pm. And I'm tired. But this Sunday I had planned to go to my parent's home and help remove some trees from their grove.

Louisa came with me for the trip. Any excuse to stay at Grandpa and Grandma's is a great reason for the kids to go. And Louisa was a good driving companion.

We got to mom and dad's at 8:30pm and talked quite a bit.

Early Monday morning, Louisa, Dad, and I went out and removed the brush from a wind-fall ash tree. There is a considerable amount of debris from this tree. It's 60 years old or more. Louisa is standing on some of the wind-fall next to the stump. The stump is what I hoped would give me several pieces of wood for bow staves.

Dad used the lawn mower first to haul out brush, but as the debris became heavier he got out the tractor.

I had cut up some of the parts with a chain-saw. We used several chains to pull out the main stump, which I had cut off close to the ground.

Unfortunately the stump was infected with carpenter ants.

Dave, I'm sorry. There was not a good piece for a guitar sound board in this tree. The heartwood was riddled with holes from the ant's nest. There were other critters living in it as well. I had to swat a couple of wood-wasps before splitting out staves.

I am in pathetic shape. The tools at my disposal were three different wedges, a 2 pound sledge hammer, and a 4 pound long handled sledge hammer with a 3.5 foot iron handle. Yeah, the long handle sledge was heavy.

And splitting staves was a learning process. I split out 4 sections before I was able to understand how to split a straight stave.

In a good way the heavy long handled sledge forced me to exert myself in ways I hadn't since my brother and I had cut a channel in my folk's basement floor, the year before my brother died. In a bad way, I knew that these unused muscles that found themselves called upon for hard labor would be screaming for attention in the next couple of days.

Nonetheless, I did learn, however slowly and tiringly, how to split a stave of wood from an ash tree.

I finally settled on three staves. I had hoped for so much more. But the carpenter ants had done their damage. The heartwood was riddled with their nest. If I could go fishing I would have saved all those grubs. Dad did all the tractor work. I cut and tied up the wood for hauling with chains. Mom and Louisa did some trimming on the staves which I saved.

I am so amazed and thankful that my family is so willing to contribute such effort to my hobbies. Of course it meant cleaning some of the debris from their grove, but Mom and Dad did more than just help with the cleaning. They were encouraging. Louisa seemed to be excited to learn some new skill with the sledge and hatchet.

Monday morning I went into Echo Charter School to talk with the administrators about the possibility of my son, Jeremy, attending there this fall. Louisa came along to see where I went to school for the first eight years of my education. She asked the head administrator if there were any embarrassing photos of me. Larry Schueller said there were, but they had to put them away during their construction before school starts. I wonder which photos he's thinking about.

Larry's wife, Barb, was my art teacher in High School. I enjoyed that class quite a bit. And I received an art scholarship which paid a significant part of my first two years in college. I owe her thanks for her instruction and encouragement. Perhaps Jeremy will find out which photos Larry meant. It will be fun to see.

Tuesday morning Louisa and I said good bye to my folks and went home. We went up to Alexandria through Maynard to Swift Falls. From Alex we took 94 to Detroit Lakes, then 59 to Plummer--and then home. We ate at Detroit Lakes.

My back an neck were a bit tight from the wood work, but not anything to worry about. I did some sermon work and worked on Sunday School and Wed. School curricula that evening.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Fields are Ripe for Harvest

The harvest has begun. Farmers are harvesting wheat, some are also harvesting winter oats at this time. The second cutting of hay has begun. There are some farmers who have had too many family problems to deal with so that they are still trying to get in their first cutting of hay.

One of the last mentioned is from Henry B's family. Henry's wife, Betty, has now started severe dementia. It's uncertain at this time what they will do, or be able to do. But please keep Henry and Betty in your prayers.

Saturday I held worship and confirmation class at Mt. Olive. Afterward I went home and ate with my family. This afternoon I went back to Mt. Olive and we baptized Nathan F., the son of Marrio and Amanda. Please keep Nathan's family in your prayers. It is not a small thing for them to have brought Nathan to baptism. There are many issues that face them, and these issues are not uncommon to many different families throughout Christianity in America today. But praise and thank God that He has brought Nathan into His kingdom through the sacrament of Baptism.

After the sacrament of baptism for Nathan, I went down to Fosston to see Esther. Esther, if you remember, fell and broke her pelvis. She seemed to be more comfortable today. But she still has a great deal of pain when she has to move from bed. She is old, and she suffers from some memory problems. She seemed to remember that Mary and I showed her our new baby, Donna. But she is struggling with her new injury. Please keep her in your prayers also.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Drop off the Car and Get it Back

Wed morning I fixed breakfast for Mary. The kids ate cereal earlier, but that didn't prevent Stella from begging for food from her mom. She watched every bite: Plat, fork, mouth. She opened her mouth like a little nestling hoping for a morning worm from her momma.

Her con worked.

And Stella is growing and changing like a weed.

Today John won the Cheech Marin look alike contest. Thanks to his older sisters he defies Deuteronomy 22:5. However, he's not a man yet. He still has some years to grow accustomed to Confessional Lutheran values and sensibilities as well as doctrine.

I hope his sisters catch on a bit sooner. I don't necessarily want to hear him singing the lyrics to "Earache, My Eye" at this age. Remember, he already knows Ozzy's "Iron Man."

It's just that I had a bit of a flashback to the '70s and the band contest scene in Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" where Cheech wears a pink tutu and sings "Earache, My Eye." I do hope for a better future for my children.

We brought my car into Rosebud Cenex this morning (Wed). We showed off the new baby to the workers there.

"Nine Kids! You're for real?"

"Yep, and they all want to kiss the new addition." Just like Stella here at supper. She's got tomato paste all over her face, but she still wants some sugar from Donna.

Thursday morning we picked up the fixed car ($63). And now I know my rear stabilizer bolts will hold through a drive on a grassy road.

Donna is changing so quickly in this first week. She is so calm and collected and looking around. She sleeps very well after she's fed.

Because of the car repair I wasn't able to do some of the visits I had planned on this morning. I'll take care of them Friday.

This afternoon we went to Red Lake Falls Library to see the Zoo Man. Now here is an interesting guy with an unusual collection of interests.

There were about 80 people gathered, mostly children with their parents. I took 5 of ours. He had half an hour and showed us a gecko, a milk snake and two pythons. I didn't get pictures of everything, but here's a slide show of some of the action.

And yes, he did encourage me to read more about these critters. Here's a link to the photos.