Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kid Quotes and Comments

Raising children comes with many delights, not the least of which is listening to their enlightening comments and questions. Here are some of my favorites from today:

"Dad, thanks for helpin' me." -Toby, age 3, who was scraping the peeling paint off the chicken coop with me. I guess he thought he was lead contractor.

"My dad already knows all about that stuff." Evan, age 7, who today told his second grade Latin teacher that he did not have to do the assignment that she gave them. The assignment was to relate the story of Julius Caesar and his conquests to one's parents.

"Dadadadadadadadadada." Avery, age one, who finds 'Daddy' to be both easy and enjoyable to say.

"Dad, if sin had never entered the world, would the laws of physics still apply?" Evan, still age seven. I wasn't quite sure how to respond.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Splendid Day (50th Post)

You should be proud of me, internets. I've now blogged 50 times.

I don't mean the title to be ironic at all. It has been another splendid day. From the successful launch to the on-time arrival at school to the throngs of young people I teach all day, it has been a delight.

Evan and I had a long discussion on the way to school this morning. Sometimes we are quiet or if I'm not feeling together we just listen to the radio and I try not to drive into anything. Sometimes we talk in depth about stuff, which is what we did this morning. He had all kinds of thoughts about gas prices, oil prices on the world market, the sovereignty of God, and why we have to go through trials. It was a very teachable string of moments. It was also a time to talk and share with each other about our lives and our aspirations.

Bluntly, if our house doesn't sell, then we have to make those 5 acres pay us in return for the mortgage, propane, and gas to communte. How we will make them pay is yet to be decided, but I'm thinking orchard, strawberry farm, and egg farm. Evan's thinking horse because all the girls in his class love horses and he figures they would probably love to come out to our place and ride our as yet non-existent horse.

It was a great teaching day. And tomorrow two great men of ACCS will be on campus to see us to our stuff. Yes, it's time for accreditation once again.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Very Quick Thought on Evangelism

If you've been a Christian for a long time, you've probably heard many different approaches to getting your faith in Christ into another person. His eternal destiny is at stake. Her joy will be increased in Christ. Your joy will be increased. God's kingdom will be built. Social change will occur. On and on.

As I was driving away from lunch today, a different thought occurred to me. In the salvation of another person, my supreme concern ought to be my opportunity to glorify Christ. The chief end is not the salvation of any one person. The chief end is the Chief.

So, Jesus be glorified in my words and in my silence. Jesus, be glorified in my smile and in what I disapprove. Jesus, be glorified in my family and my work.

Jesus, you are King of kings! Soli Deo gloria.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Women's Retreat Strikes Again

So Tara decided that she needed to go to women's retreat this year. I did not fight with her about this decision because 1) she would cry, 2) women's retreat is good for her, 3) she needs to get away from the kids once in a while, and 4) she would cry. And I would still end up taking all the kids while she goes.

So I planned carefully for the blessed event by putting it on my calendar and then being thankful that it wasn't me who had to get ready to go somewhere (I hate packing for anything... don't know why, I just do.)

Friday afternoon at 4:30 we swapped the kids at church. I headed to Grandpa's house to get Evan and Tara headed to the retreat to get rejuvenated or revitalized or whatever. Women do weird things at their retreats, including leg and ankle massages and making journals with foofy covers. But I digress. After letting all the children see their grandfather for a bit, I loaded up their sorry carcasses and headed for the farm. Of course it is now pushing toward 6:00 and I still have to make dinner. But Tara had promised me a note on the refrigerator which would presumably give guidance in that direction. And it did. It said "Friday night -- make frozen pizza from the outside freezer". So I did. And things went well that evening. Scam came out a little before 7:00 and brought with him a veggie pizza.

Now I need to talk a little about the veggie pizza. To me, it just seems ridiculous. I mean, it's basically a glorified salad on top of a pizza crust. Would you cook a salad? Of course not. But this gourmet veg pizza you cook for 10-12 minutes until the veggies are no longer truly vegetable matter. Then your pizza is ready.

So Scam ate the lion's (rabbit's?) share of his veggie pizza and I helped a little. The crust and cheese made up for the veggies. But Evan and Aidan looked at it with distrust. I guess they couldn't imagine why someone would want to waste a perfectly good pizza by covering it with vegetables.

One thing I wasn't looking forward to was dealing with Avery after 10:00 p.m. She usually wakes up during the night for recreational nursing once or twice. Of course I am not good at recreational nursing, either giving or receiving. So when Avery got up at 10:30 I knew it wasn't going to be fun. I will spare you the detail, but at 12:05 I finally told her that she was fine, sleep was a necessary inactivity for both of us, and I would see her when she turned 14 or 7:00 a.m., whichever came first.

Well, I don't know how long she cried, but I do know that I was on the couch and able to sleep through the initial protest. And she slept in till after 8:00. Take that, offspring!!

Of course the boys came down at 6:47 to begin their exciting day with DADDY. At least Evan and Aidan did. Toby decided to sleep in; I don't think we saw him until after 8:00. So I willed myself to awake and made waffles for our breakfast. They were quite tasty.

Around 10:00 I managed to get outside. As I was passing through the mudroom, I looked down into the cat box, and there before me was Scruff and A KITTEN. A KITTEN!! Yes, Scruff was in labor, bringing new critters into the world right there in the mudroom. Of course this did not catch us completely by surprise, but on the other hand, there's nothing quite like the wonder of watching a new life come into the world. Scruff did it with style and had three of them popped out by mid-afternoon.

During the process she ate the placenta, which Evan watched. Try explaining that one to a seven-year-old.

So congratulations to us. We now have three grandkittens. And Tara made it home safely from women's retreat.

Monday, April 21, 2008

You Read Me! You Really Read Me!

I learned that I have a broader readership than I expected. Hey, there, how ya doin? to all of you in cyberspace!

We just finished an immensely busy weekend. It started late last week when Grandma & Grandpa, Tara's brother Adam, Tara's sister Wendy, and Wendy's three kids stormed the castle to stay with us for the Grandparents' Day festivities at school last Friday. Actually, Tara's folks got themselves a hotel in a nearby small town presumably so they could enjoy some peace and quiet.

Grandparent Day went pretty well. Besides the grandparents, the programs, and the classroom visits, the best part is the food. The school gathers tasty cheeses, fruit,and croissants for the occasion, and after everyone leaves, the teachers chow down. As is my duty, I participated enthusiastically in this ritual.

Our spring concert, later that evening, began with an uncooperative fire alarm. By the time that was under control (7:20 p.m.) both our headmaster and associate headmaster looked five years older. The concert itself was excellent and finished with a choral medley from Les Miserables that really showcased just what our upper school choir can do.

On Saturday morning all children went swimming at Grandma and Grandpa's hotel. I think only Evan and Toby had to be fished out by their mother when they got in over their heads. After swimming, the Sioux Falls relatives headed home and we headed back to our farmlet and critically surveyed the landscape to determine the next project: everything.

On Sunday there was a benefit in Goodhue for my cousin Gary who has had a pile of health problems this winter. All six of us went and enjoyed helping Gary and Angie and eating pork sandwiches and other classic country foods. There was a lot of good conversation and Thrivent matched all our donations dollar for dollar. I'm hoping to hear about a great total!

There's much more to say but not time to say it. This was a very full weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Longing for Spring and Lightning.

I have been longing for spring, praying, in fact, that God would allow the season to change and restore to us the joy of pleasant weather. But on Saturday He did not yet choose to do that.

Also on Saturday I lost one of our cats. I let it ride along to the dump, and while we were doing recycling, it jumped out of the van and scuttled away to begin a new life. Its name was Lightning, and I liked it a lot. You would think that someone of my age would just take this in stride, but I didn't. When I got home, I started crying over that and all the loss we've had recently. I cried all through lunch, after lunch, into the afternoon. No one really knew what to do with me. Usually the children in the family are upset or angry over the loss of a pet, but none of the boys were even remotely upset. Aidan actually told me (when we were looking for the cat), "C'mon, Dad. Let's go home now."

So if you are discouraged read Psalm 42 and 43. They will be very helpful for you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Up the Down Staircase

This, of course, is the title of a classic 20th century play. I have read it but don't know if I actually want to have my drama department perform it or not.

Anyway, I was struck by how life seems to go in waves of success and failure, and in particular, how God seems to be blessing one thing incredibly and at the same time other stuff is falling apart. Example: Last night we had some of the most wicked rain and wind Minnesota has seen for a long time, and it came from the east. Every east-facing window in our house was leaking through the top of the window frame. I'd never seen anything like it before. I was wiping up sills and taking care of the children, and then every so often the door on that side of the house would gust open because aparently the latch doesn't latch so well against 50-mile-per hour winds. Aidan saw me using my body to hold the door shut and yelled, "Don't worry, Dad! I'm standing guard for you!" He propped his 35-pound self against the steel door and hunkered down, prepared for whatever.

Meanwhile, at school I had just an amazing day. We have had some big breakthroughs with a couple of kids (brother and sister) that I was afraid for when they started at SA earlier in the year. They weren't used to the subculture or the expectations and both of the bucked it in different ways. But within the last few weeks, the sister (8th grade) has made huge, unbelievable changes for the good. She participates in class, she's learning the material for the first time, she asks for help outside of class. Wow. The brother (6th grade) also nailed a vocabulary quiz for the first time this week. They are both starting to care and seeing that being bad for the sake of being bad is just stupid. My guess is that their parents are seeing some changes for the better at home, too.

I talked with a long-time friend today also who is trying to break into the Lutheran tradition as a DCE (director of Christian education). This will be a great post for him if he can overcome/persevere and make it through.

I continue to work on house projects to improve the saleability of this bit of God's green earth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Little Critic and Other News and Humor from Today

This morning Toby (#3) woke up earliest, of the children, that is. I came up from the shower to find him snuggled into my side of the bed. So I began a conversation with him.

Me: Toby, what's that in my bed?

Toby: It's a lion.

Me: Do you know anything about lions?

Toby: [nods]

Me: Does a lion have fur or feathers?

Toby: Fur!

Me: What does a lion say?

Toby: (very weakly) Roar.

Me: What kind of a lion is that?

Toby: It's a baby lion.

Me: What do you call a baby lion?

Toby: A quesadilla! (I promise. That's really what he said!)

Me and Tara, who is now awake: [much laughter]


I asked my homeroom (7th grade) this morning about their spring break activities. Maria replied that she had gone to the state science fair over break and that it had been really fun. She said that when they got up in the morning to have breakfast at the hotel, everyone else was "dressed up" but she arrived in the dining room wearing pajamas, eyemask, and carrying her teddy bear. She went on to describe other unique things she had done at the fair.

Nicole raised her hand a few minutes later and said, "I went to state science fair too, and Maria really did everything she said!"


The results from the National Latin Exam came today. When I first picked up the packet in the office, I thought that it was a little light... maybe a little too light... maybe not having enough medals. Well, I was wrong! I opened that packet and discovered a whole pile of honor certificates, gold medals, and silver medals. The Latin I students totally cleaned up!! They had 77% of the takers honored in some way, including six gold medals. But the best part was this: Because we had 4 or 5 freshmen sick on the exam day, I pulled up three really sharp eighth grade girls who are taking Latin with me also... at about half the speed of the ninth grade. We really didn't think they'd win anything; I just didn't want to waste the exams. You know, I thought it would be good experience and a self-esteem boost for them. Well, I really had no idea. All three of them turned out to be medalists! We got a gold and two silvers out of Kerryn, Kiersten, and Andrea. I was really proud and grateful to God for their achievements.


Towards the end of supper tonight Evan decided that he would be a restaurant critic similar to Anton Ego in Ratatouille. He grabbed a small notebook and a black pen and returned to the table. After he sampled the dessert (pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream) this is what we found written in the notebook:

Flavor: ***
Thickness: ***
Serving: **
Decoration: ****

When asked about the rating scale, he replied impatiently that it was out of five stars, "of course."

When asked about thickness, he explained that he was rating the thickness of the pound cake. He thought it ought to be a little thicker.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Takin' It to the Churches

I love to drive through small-town America. There is a quaint beauty that comes, especially for someone who grew up in the Twin Cities, in just seeing the small downtown areas, historic churches, and brick storefronts. The residential sections just a few blocks away are a treat, too.

The sad, reality, sometimes, is that those same towns have no vibrant Christian ministry in them to point the people to faith and community in Christ. Even if they do, it is less than likely that Christian worldview is clearly, comprehensively, or systematically taught.

For 3-4 years now, I have wanted to put together a Christian worldview seminar and take it to the churches -- the small rural churches where one discouraged pastor serves 3 congregations 22 miles apart. You know the type. The exciting news is that I am very close. I drafted a letter yesterday that I intend to use to communicate with these congregations. I'll be offering them a chance to hear my Christian Worldview Seminar as a Sunday message in either the service or one of the classes.

This is dove-tailing nicely with some other aspects of my life and ministry responsibilities. I'm hoping to get into a few churches this summer, get a rhythm for this, and take it even further in years to come.

Please join me in praying about this opportunity. Also, if you have something good to say about my teaching or leading ability or whatever, please post it or email it to me so I can use it in the "marketing letter" (gag) that I'll be sending to these congregations. I know I'm attempting something tricky, but at the moment I'm quite undaunted.

Soli Deo Gloria!!!