Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bits and Pieces

I haven't written in a while, but then life has been hectic. So I am going to hit a couple of completely random thoughts.

The forecast for this weekend is calling for snow. Possibly up to seven inches worth on Saturday. This makes me all the more uncomfortable because of the following reasons.
1) I just finished raking leaves this past week and there are still plenty that are hanging on to the trees yet.
2) I'm not particularly fond of snow when I have a lot of other things going on. I currently have a lot of other things going on.
3) The lawn tractor still has a blown engine which means that the blower that attaches to the tractor is virtually useless unless one is looking for a large door stop or paper weight.

My next item of trivia is this. I find this story absolutely amazing, fascinating, and very entertaining.

I am very perturbed that I didn't get in on time for this. However, I may steal the idea and do it in the future just for fun. I was so looking forward to a wire clothes hanger mobile made by Mup.

Lastly and on a more serious note. Kim is scheduled for her TEE at 10:00 tomorrow morning. (If you are looking at the screen right now going, huh? Look here.)
We are not expecting anything out of the ordinary to come up, but are praying for wisdom for the doctor's.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Black Friday and Grace

As most of you probably know, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. The retailers all run their special door busters, there are deals everywhere, and if you live in a northern climate you can even get free frostbite waiting in line for the store to open so you can get the latest most popular DVD for $5. Well, Kim likes Black Friday. Correction, she will admit that it like an addiction for her. Anyone that talks to her for more than five minutes will come to the proper conclusion that she is a deal hound. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, she has not only examined the field she is purchasing, she has done comparison shopping, waited for it to go on clearance, and will buy it with coupon in hand and a rebate waiting to be filled out at home. I am honestly very thankful that God has blessed me with such a frugal wife. For a few years now, she and I have gone shopping on Black Friday. We normally celebrate Thanksgiving in Illinois with her family and since the larger chain stores are conveniently located we spend Thursday night there and wake up early to shop. Now we are not those people that are sitting in the parking lot at 3:00AM waiting for the latest "I need that". No, Kim very carefully examines the ads, makes a detailed list, and we shop for items that should be in large supply.

Now I must admit that the first time we tried this I came up with a word of the day. Moron. That was it. I kept muttering it under my breath, referring of course to those around me, not my wife. I was so irritated by everyone who couldn't figure out how to park a car, move a cart, or realize that "Yes, you have finally reached the register and this process would go quicker for everyone behind you if you were actually ready to pay for the mound of stuff in your cart and no, you should not be allowed to add the cheese and sausage log sale item that is next to the cash register after you have already paid!" Moron. The word of the day worked fairly well for me until we were driving back to Wisconsin that evening and someone cut me off and from the back seat I heard a child's voice say, "Moron."

Last year something significant happened while we were out. We had finished our shopping for the morning and went to Panera's for lunch. They were packed, but we were able to find a small cafe table near the registers. As we ate our food, they had a steady stream of customers coming in, but were not rushed. Located where we were, we could hear people ordering and some of the conversation between the cashiers as they waited for more customers. Then the significant took place. A lady, by herself, approached the ordering area and place her order. She was late 30's, early 40's and looked like almost every other person in the place. The cashier that took the lady's order was probably in her early 20's and was the same cashier that had taken ours. As the lady finished placing her order, the following conversation took place.
The lady asked, "So, were you able to get any shopping done for Christmas?"
The cashier replied, "I picked up a few things for my son. It is all about him anyway."
"Did you find anything for yourself. Certainly there was something you saw that you wanted," the lady asked.
"No. It is really just about my son. I have gotten everything I need for him," said the cashier.
"May I see your hand?" asked the lady.
The cashier obviously feeling awkward stuck out her hand. The lady placed one of her hands on top of the girl's and another below as she held her hand and leaned in towards her.
"You are important," she said. "Take care of yourself. This is for you and not for anyone else."
The lady suddenly let go of the girl's hand and walked away. She picked up her food and left the building.
The young cashier had a look of "that was weird" on her face until she opened up her hand. There, in her palm, was at least one one hundred dollar bill. Her face melted into tears and she began to sob uncontrollably.
There, in Panera's, was grace. Outwardly happy, seemingly content, the young mother tasted grace. It was something to be that near to grace, to almost feel the experience. To be close enough to hear the conversation, to see the demeanor change from one of apprehension to complete emotional release. And I thought, how have I acted today? Did I mutter "moron" at those around me, treat them as obliviously as I normally did? Why? Did I not claim to have the Spirit of Christ in me? While I don't have money to give away, could I not have treated those around me with grace? Couldn't I greet with a smile, graciously help those around me, and show grace in me? I remember this story as we enter into this season of consumerism and me first attitudes. May we be reminded of the grace that we have been given and show that grace to those around us through our very words and actions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Part of the reason that I began this blog is for my personal edification. Yes, it is about me. I have learned that I organize my thoughts better when I put them down in writing. As it is, today's post will be an attempt of an honest, introspective, contemplative look at one of my personal weaknesses. I don't pray enough. Sure, we all could probably say that, but when I carefully examine the use of my time I realize that it consumes very little of my life. God has been convicting me about this recently and so I deviated from normal devotional reading today and instead looked at a few select verses on prayer.

I started reading in James 5:13 where I find the simple command to pray. "Is any among you suffering? Let him pray." So there it is. My ineptness when it comes to prayer is simply disobedience. Who among us doesn't have suffering? Sure, it may not be physical, but we have a serious sin problem that is certainly causing some suffering. And in Romans 12:12 it says to be "constant in prayer." I'm not praying like I know I should and therefore I am being disobedient to His clear commands.

So if I am to say that I love and treasure God above all else, and that I desire to glorify Him in all that I do and yet I have this area of disobedience in my life because I don't follow a simple command to pray, then I think it is safe to say that He is not my true treasure. "Where your heart is there your treasure will be." Matthew 6:21 And again in verse 33 of chapter 6 where it commands me to seek His kingdom first. However, I want Him to be my true treasure. I want Him to be magnified and not me, so I must confront this disobedience in my life, put on the armor, and go to war against myself.

As I began this battle, I have purposed to examine prayer more closely. To do a study on true Biblical guidelines to prayer. To help with that today, I plan on meditating on these words from James 5:13 "Let him pray" and the words "be constant in prayer" from Romans 12:12. I also downloaded this sermon to listen to while I am in the shop today.

I would like to quote John Piper on prayer. "Prayer is the splicing of our limp wire to the lightning bolt of heaven." Unfortunately, I'm not sure that at this time my prayer life has a current and that is what concerns me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Miscellany

Life has been a whirlwind of activity over the last few days. My parents were up from Arkansas for one of my nieces weddings and stayed with us while they were here. That of course meant there were lots of card games involving grandparents and grandchildren. Throw into that some homeschooling, a self-employed woodworker with deadlines, the wedding and reception, church and all of its activities, a doctor visit, and a trip to the mechanic and you have glimpse into the past 4 days at our house. I will attempt to hit the high and low points of the past several days.
My parents came in on Thursday and left early this morning. They really do not like the cold weather, but even in spite of it we had a nice visit. The kids had worked ahead in most of their school last week so that they could have off on Friday when my parents were here.
I have a large project that I am working on that has a looming deadline along with several other projects in the queue behind the current one. On top of that I added a small project on the side that involved me working in the shop Saturday morning and being gone Sunday afternoon while I installed it.
Saturday afternoon put us in Waupun for the wedding followed by the reception in Fond Du Lac. It was good to see all of my brothers who could make it, however that was not the highlight of the day. Our whole family was quite convinced that the minister was drunk for the ceremony. No joke. His message started by talking about the moral decline of society and sex. He then moved into saying that marriage was instituted by God and followed with the next sentence where he stated that the word "wed" came from the old English word meaning "gamble". The more he spoke, the more people laughed. However, they weren't laughing because he was funny, but rather that they were shocked at what he was saying. The expressions on people's faces were indescribable. He finished the evening off by saying the prayer for the food at the reception. He started the prayer by telling a joke about a newly married bride and groom that implied overt submission of the wife and ended with the husband threatening to shoot his new wife. I've never seen a wedding quite like it.
Friday afternoon was spent at the doctors office as we had another appointment for Kim. I know that some of you who read this don't know what has been going on, so I will give you the Cliff Notes version. Starting in April of this year, Kim has been experiencing bizarre symptoms that have ranged from loss of feeling in her arms and legs to her almost being unable to walk. She had a period of about six weeks in August and September where she was almost completely confined to sitting because her legs were so weak. Towards the end of that period, she began to develop some pain in her legs that would increase with use. Her symptoms have improved recently though she still has periods of sensation lose. Her largest complaint now is the severe pain in her legs. We have seen five different Neurologists and have done virtually every test possible and don't really have a diagnosis. Her latest test was an echo of her heart. They were just checking it to rule some other things out and didn't expect there to be anything, a test of exclusion. Our appointment this past Friday was with a cardiologist to discuss the results of the echo. At the visit we found out that there appears to be a slight detachment of a leaflet in her heart that they want to investigate further. Ironically, they don't believe this is related to any of her other symptoms. So the news on that front is that she is scheduled for a TEE at the end of this month. The TEE is where they sedate her and run a tube in to get a closer look at the heart. We will keep everyone posted as to what is going on via e-mail and the blog.
Well, I need to fix lunch for the kids and get to the shop.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

November Giveaway

Once again, Tim Challies is giving something away. Click the banner for your chance to win.

November Giveaway

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sir Walter Raleigh

This past Monday, October 29, marked the anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Raleigh in 1618. Purely by coincidence, the history class that I teach was studying that period of time and specifically Sir Walter. A couple of things we found extremely interesting about the chap.

First of all, I love the following quote. He was sentenced to death by beheading and he actually examined the very ax that would carry out his sentence. As he looked it over, he remarked, "This is sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases and miseries."

To appreciate the next tidbit you need to realize that the class is almost equally made up of boys and girls. As boys and girls are prone to be at the ages of 8 to 13, they have some very different interest when it comes to history and life. Obviously the girls enjoy the historical characters whose lives are surrounded with great love and passion, while the boys thrive on stories of death, conquests, and plagues. Well we are in luck, for Sir Walt (we are on nickname basis by this point) was a true Renaissance Man who wrote poetry, fought battles, loved passionately, and died bravely which of course pleased everyone in the class. As we finished the study on Sir Walt, ending with his death, we concluded with one last gruesome detail for the boys. History records for us that upon his untimely head and body separation, that his body was buried in Westminster and his head was embalmed and given to . . . his wife! She kept the head of her dearly departed in a velvet bag for some time until she could no longer tolerate the stench and she had it reunited with the rest of him. At this point in the class, my 10 year old son, Caleb, raises his hand and says, "I'm guessing she never remarried. Seeing as how not many guys want to date someone who carries their dead husband's head in a bag." How very true.