Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Week That Was

Had a busy past seven days with a couple of trips and lots of other stuff going on. Won't bore you with the details, just some pictures to look at!

First, some of the fox family that seems to be living - at least part of the time - under our sun porch.


One of the kits coming out from under the sun porch.


All three of the kits together.

On Saturday night, I got to go to a Washington Nationals game with my youngest daughter. It was school Safety Patrol night and she got a free ticket. They were playing the Phillies! Not bad seats, though it was pretty cold!




Before the start of the game with the scoreboard behind us.



Our view of the game. We were in row T, so about 20 rows up from the field.


Teddy, one of the racing presidents!

With my kids now home from college and us all together (for a few days anyway), we all went to see my Dad . . .



This was just two days after the oral surgeon had to dig out an abscess - he's doing really well! (The good thing about dementia - the next day, he didn't remember anything about having to drive all around and all the pain involved.)


Petting "his" cat.

Funny story: While my wife was visiting last week, he said: "I've always been a dog person, but here I went and got myself a cat!" :-)  Glad he feels at home.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Comps. Passed.

As I was waiting in line at the airport yesterday to board my flight home, I received an email from my advisor at school notifying me that I have passed all my comprehensive exams. Yea! I will now receive a Master of Philosophy degree and am eligible to apply for "candidate status" - meaning to begin work on my dissertation, the last step to a Ph.D. As of yet I am undecided if I will actually take this last step or step away. I will speak with my advisor soon and begin that discussion. Many other folks are giving input as well. It's not a small decision - lots of work involved. So we'll see.

But for now, I am going to enjoy and rejoice in achieving this milestone! :-)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Oh, the Joys . . .

. . . of not having your own building continue! This weekend is our annual Good Shepherd Seminar. We fly in a professor from our Ft. Wayne Seminary who holds forth on a topic for us on Saturday, and then leads Bible Class and preaches for us on Sunday. Every year we've held this at the same hotel, for eleven years now. We never had any trouble. Never. Ever.

Until this year.

At about 8:30 last night, we arrive at the hotel and they know nothing about us. Zilch. Nada. No reservations at all. The meeting room had been rented to another group. We have no place to have our seminar. We call to other area hotels, but they either have no meeting space, have already committed it, or want to charge something spectacularly high since we're over a barrel. And at that time of night, it's most difficult to get a hold of the hotel managers anyway.

We had our contract with them, but the sales manager who made it no longer works there and apparently didn't enter it into their system - or however they do it. Sigh. Fortunately, they still had a guest room for our professor, so we got that. But now we'll have to meet at local members house. It'll be a bit cramped, but we'll make do. But what a headache last night! And trying to communicate to everyone coming today for the seminar to go to a new location. We'll have a sign up at the hotel and information there - hopefully everyone will get to the new location okay.

The professor was very good and good natured about it all. And, lesson learned. Check. Double check. Confirm. Triple confirm. But this I know, too: it will be a good seminar today, despite the circumstances. :-)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Amusing

You know what amuses me? Pastors who left the Lutheran Church for Orthodoxy who still quote hymns from the Lutheran hymnal in their blog posts! Hmmm . . .

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Update

Well, time for a school update . . .

As I've posted before, I've been finished with my Ph.D. classwork for some time now and had my exams to take. I'd taken a leave of absence to deal with family issues, but the time had come to fish or cut bait, as they say. My congregation graciously allowed me to cut back on a few things this January - March, so that I could take my exams in April. As the year began, I registered and began studying.

Then my father went into the hospital . . . and went again . . . and went again. Again, as I've written before, this is tough because my wife and I need to be there with him because of his dementia. When he is sick, he is prone to agitation and upset when he doesn't have someone he knows there. So, my studying took a hit. Its just very hard to get much done in the hospital.

But I tried. In the beginning of March I had one exam to pass so that I could move onto my big, three-day, comprehensive exams. Well, I didn't do well. In fact, I was pretty sure I had not passed - 95% percent or more sure. So I was pretty bummed. At the same time I got slammed with an issue in the district that sucked up a lot of time, so for three week I didn't check my school email and I didn't continue studying. (For why study for exams I won't get to take anyway?)

Well, after about three weeks I decided to log onto my school email and just get the bad news over with. Except . . . I passed. As I told my advisor, I didn't know any human being had that much grace in them! But now I was in a pickle - for my exams were to come up in a couple of weeks and I was not prepared! Both because I got set back with my father's hospitalizations, and because I had stopped studying for a few weeks. But I also don't want to keep having these things hanging over my head, and my congregation had been so gracious. So I called my advisor to see how to move forward.

Turns out my advisor never got the email I sent him to register for my exams! I don't know what
happened, if the fault was on my end, his end, or somewhere in between, but no paperwork, no necessary signatures, nothing had been done! And this is all supposed to be in place 30 days before the exams which were now two weeks away. My advisor said he would see what he could do. Originally, if all had gone according to plan, I was to take them April 10-12 which, for those of you liturgically astute, is Holy Week! Yes, the first three days of Holy Week. My advisor realized these probably weren't the best days for a pastor to be taking them, but we'll see.

So he asks for permission for special days for me, which is sometimes done. I thought maybe the first week in May, since that was finals week. Kinda makes sense. These are like my finals. Administration says no. The logistics wouldn't work out; people wouldn't be in place. They counter with some alternate dates: what about April 17, 19, 20? Well that doesn't make sense, since the days aren't consecutive (which they're supposed to be), the 17th classes aren't in session and so the logistical and personnel would be a problem that day too, and the day after Easter is still not an optimal day for a pastor! So, we counter with April 24-26. Accepted.

That gives me one week after Easter to cram for the exams. So cram I did. The days for the exams came. I woke up each morning super early to study and get my notes together, reviewed them on the Metro, and then took them. Now I must say, in my opinion the exams were quite fair - no outlandish questions, no unreasonable minutiae. And I think I did as well as I could expect. My answers fairly reflect what I know. Now the question is: is that enough? I really have no idea. Just have to wait for the results.

But, as if all that isn't enough, one more heart-stopping thing happened. On Thursday, the day after all the exams were done and I was feeling quite a sense of relief, I get a call from the Associate Director of Graduate Studies . . . there was a problem with my exams. Oh no. They didn't have one of them. You see, each day I would go to an office with a computer they had ready for me, write my answers, and then email the test to the Associate Director. Except the third day, I emailed the wrong test. So she had two copies of the second day and did not get the third. Oh no! Was it still on the computer? In the trash? I really didn't want to go back and do it again! So I gave her my account logon information and waited while she went and checked it out. I think that was the longest 30 minutes or so of my life! Then she calls me back: she found it. It was there. All was in order.

Heart, you can start beating again . . .

So that's the story right now. I am waiting for the result. What will I do then? I don't know. If I pass, the school can give me candidate status, meaning I am full steam ahead to write my dissertation. But do I want to commit to that? That means several more years of intense research and writing, including a boat load of translating that I would need to do. And will I be able? Will my father go back in the hospital and need me to be there? Will I be able to travel for sources and research? Did I have the energy to devote to such an endeavor? I don't know. I am leaning toward no right now, though many are encouraging me to keep going. If I stop (assuming I pass) I can receive a Master of Philosophy - not a small accomplishment. So we'll see.

Now, I'm trying to catch up on all the stuff I put off to study!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good and Holy Friday



A blessed Good and Holy Friday to you all as we pause to take time to meditate on the Passion of our Lord and remember His great love that would cause Him to do this for us ME.


Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Walk-Run-Ride for Life

It's that time of year again - time for the annual Walk-Run-Ride for Life, an even which helps raise funds for our local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Here is the link to my fundraising page - sponsor me! OR, scroll down the page a little bit and see the whole "Lutherans for Life" team. They need sponsors, too. OR, you can join our team and participate! The folks at the Assist Pregnancy Center do such good and important work, we are happy to partner with them. So click on the link and help us out! THANKS!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was my father's 93rd birthday. Quite a milestone. Will it be his last? Only God knows. He's been in the hospital a lot this year, but right now is doing pretty well. Here's a couple pictures from our celebration yesterday.


You can see my father in the lower right. Going around the table counter-clockwise from there is my brother and his wife from Florida, my son, daughter #2 (daughter #1 couldn't make it up from school, though she tried!), my sister, my niece, her son, and her husband (also from Florida), and finally my wife. We were hoping for two more, another niece and her husband, but they couldn't get off from work in time. Even though my father doesn't do great with crowds anymore, he seemed to have a good time and enjoy having everyone there.


This picture was taken just a moment too late - it is my father meeting his great-grandson for the very first time. Just a few seconds before this, his great-grandson was looking up at him and staring at him as he was looking down - priceless! 

Sadly, my father will probably forget all this ever happened today. But we have learned to live in the moment with him and enjoy each moment as it comes. And each day that God gives.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Rack

Remember that Medieval torture device called the rack?


That's what I feel like these days! No, I'm not being tortured, but I do feel like I'm being pulled in four different directions: family, church, school, and district. All need my time right now. You see, my father is back in the hospital again. He was only home for a week or so before needing to return, and hasn't bounced back so far. I also should be studying for my school exams, and with everything else going on am falling behind. Problems in my district need my attention - more attention than I have been giving them. And then my church responsibilities - both the ongoing, regular ones, but also the special ones that crop up, like now having to help organize and fund raise for Bishop Omolo's trip from Kenya in May and June. So with those four things, I feel like each limb is being pulled in a different direction. Two limbs is great. Three I can deal with. Four is tough.

But I have a great family. My youngest is so understanding at all the upset with grandpa in the hospital and my wife and I being there so much. My sister came down to help last night, and that's a big help! My wife is amazing at all she does. My church has been incredibly understanding and has allowed my some reduction in my schedule to study for school. But the busyness, coupled with the emotional, creates a weariness . . .

One day at a time.

Monday, February 20, 2017

In the Hospital Again

My father went back into the hospital. I got the call very late Thursday night (9th) / very early Friday morning. Fortunately, my wife was working that night, and double fortunate that they were fully staffed and it was a slow night! So she was able to leave her floor and go down and check on him in the emergency room. She spent the rest of that night going back and forth. You see, with my father's dementia, he doesn't understand what is happening and so needs someone there that he knows to keep him calm and resting.

So that meant that for as long as he was in the hospital, I stayed with him there during the day, while my wife spent the nights with him. It's not easy duty! And after a week, we were wearing out. Fortunately they released him on the 16th, and when I visited him on the 17th back in his memory care unit, he acted as if nothing had happened at all! He didn't remember being sick, being in the hospital, or ever being gone. It was business as usual. :-) One good thing about memory loss, I guess.

The bad thing was that I lost a week of study for my school exams. I really can't afford to lose time, but family has to come first. I was able to do some work in the hospital, but not much. Part of the problem is that he doesn't remember that he needs help and cannot physically do what he thinks he can. So if he has to go to the bathroom, he'll just toss off the sheets and think he can get up and go - but he can't! He needs help. Then five minutes later, he'll do it again - not remembering that just five minutes ago he needed help. And so it goes.

I am so appreciative of the ladies in the memory care where he lives. They take good care of him and work really hard. Whatever pay they get, they do not get paid nearly enough!

Happy Birthday

My wife's birthday was last Monday. We couldn't celebrate it that day because of our having to be with my father in the hospital. So we celebrated on Friday night instead. My daughter and I made a cake, and I made her homemade spinach manicotti, but instead of manicotti pasta, the cheese was wrapped in crespelles - a crepe-like pastry. Spinach is not my favorite, but my wife loved it. :-)

Here are a few pictures:




The new bike my sister and I got her. So much better than the old clunker she had been riding!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Post Flurry!

I have had a bunch of thoughts for posts, but not the time to put them up. So, I'll try to throw them up in the next day or two. Here are the first three . . .  Enjoy!

Old Testament "Christians"

A thought spurred from my reading the other day . . .

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

“All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” 

What does Paul mean by those statements? That all the Israelites ate and drank the same food and drink in the wilderness? Isn’t that kind of an obvious thing to say? 

But perhaps what Paul is saying is this: 

“All ate the same spiritual food [as us], and all drank the same spiritual drink [as us].”

This would fit the context of the next verse, then, which speaks of Christ. And Paul is making an important theological statement: that Old Testament Israel received Christ in His promises just as the Christians of Corinth. 

Maybe that’s obvious to you, but how important to know this: that Christ is present in His promises; that we receive Christ in His promises, wherever, whenever you live. Old Israel or New Israel, where the Word and promises of Christ are proclaimed and given, there He is given and there is the Church. 

So yes, the believers in the Old Testament were “Christians.”

Politics, Part 1

I very rarely post about politics, but I heard an interesting theory the other day as to why the political left seems to fight much harder and better than the political right. Yes, I know they both fight, but why does it seem that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi get their way more, or fight better, than Mitch McConnell and John Boehner? 

It’s because for the left (according to this theorist), government is the answer. Government is the solution to the problems that plague us. So they need to be in power in order to do the good they want to do. And so it is a much more important fight for them than for the right which see things in a much broader and multi-faceted perspective, and where private industry and small business is as much a part of the solution as government. And so a small government, politically right-leaning representative will not see the fight as critical as a left-leaning, big government advocate. And so won’t fight as hard.

That’s an interesting proposition. I’m sure it’s not the only answer, but I think there’s some merit to it. And I don’t say any of this (left or right) pejoratively - it’s just a different way of thinking and philiosophy.

Politics, Part 2

One things that bugs me is the seeming inability or unwillingness of some to clearly differentiate positions on some issues. Two examples:

1. Stem cell research. There are two different strands of this research going on: one using “adult” stem cells, which are available from any person, and the second using “embryonic” stem cells which come from the destruction of a baby boy or girl to use these cells that are harvested. If a person expresses concern or objection to embryonic stem cell research, that person is painted as “against stem cell research.” No! Just that one kind. Why is it so hard to make that distinction? Why does such a broad brush need to be used?

2. Immigration. This is a big issue right now, but why does everything have to be: you are either for or against immigration? Why can’t the argument be more nuanced, so that you can be for legal immigration, but against illegal immigration? Why is it all one or all the other?

Yes, I know perhaps some will do this for political reasons, but I think it’s bigger than that. Are we just that intellectually lazy?


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Good Quote

"For wherever they see the Lord's blood, devils flee and angels run together."
~ John Chrysostom

Saturday, January 28, 2017

March for Life 2017

Another great March for Life this year. It is such a joyous (and important) day. A bunch of folks from my church went and I met friends from all over the country as well. Notice all that different states represented . . .

Here are some pictures:


Young ladies from my church with a friend they met at a Higher Things conference from Illinois.

GMU student and organizer of our campus ministry Bible study there, with another wonderful lady from my church.


LCMS President Harrison leading us in prayer before the March.


More folks (two wonderful families) from my church.
They let their kids have off from school to come to his great learning experience!


Dr. Wenthe, past president of our Ft. Wayne seminary (Indiana), and Pastor Linthicum from Maryland.

Pastor Beinke from Connecticut (a friend of mine when I was in NY and now my sister's pastor).


Pastor Zill, head of our Synod's LCMSU program (lives in New Mexico).


Folks from my church again . . . :-)


Pastor Grewe from New Jersey (who I had the privilege of installing this past summer).


Pastor Shultanis, a neighboring pastor.



Nancy Nus, a good friend from Wyoming.


Pastor Lange, president of the Kansas District (and my Greek teacher at seminary when he was a graduate student).


Pastor Espinosa from California and adjunct professor at Concordia, Irvine.


Pastor Jagow, another neighboring pastor from here in Virginia (I also knew him in NY).


Peter, who I got to know as a student at Patrick Henry college, and who is now at Concordia, Seward (Nebraska) studying to be a Lutheran school teacher.

So how many states is that? And I didn't even get all the pictures I wanted (my pastor friend from Michigan, another state, for example).

It's easy for me to go, living right here in Washington, but for all these folks to come from all over the country is something pretty special. So come next year! It really is a wonderful time and important to keep standing up and speaking up for life. (And you might just get an attractive lime green hat!)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inauguration Weekend

I enjoy watching the inaugurations of presidents. I enjoy watching the funerals as well. The careful ceremony, the details, the seriousness are impressive. I was happy with a couple of others things as well. First of all, that the inaugural address was short! Only 16 minutes. Say what you have to say and sit down. Excellent. Just don't like it when presidents drone on and on for 45 minutes or more.

Second, the inaugural parade was . . . a real parade! I just hate the Thanksgiving Day parades on television now, both from New York and from Philadelphia. They're not parades anymore - all they show are the production pieces, the singing and dancing, and you don't really get to see much of the real parade. Well, this was a parade. A real one. Bands playing and marching by. I liked that.

Third, the prayers at the inauguration were overtly Christian. (Except for the Jewish rabbi, who, of course, wasn't.) But of the others (three at the beginning and two others at the end) none tip-toed around praying to the FATHER (and offending feminists) nor praying in JESUS name (and offending other religions). Refreshing.

However, that good was quite undone with the abomination called a prayer service at the National Cathedral this morning. Represented were six or seven religions and I don't know how many Christian denominations. Below is a list of the participants:

  • Carlyle Begay – Navajo Nation
  • Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington – Episcopal Church
  • James B. Magness, Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries – Episcopal Church
  • Randall Marshall Hollerith, Dean, Washington National Cathedral – Episcopal Church
  • Cantor Mikhail Manevich – Washington Hebrew Congregation
  • Rabbi Fred Raskind – Temple Bet Yam, St. Augustine Florida
  • Alveda King – Pastoral associate, Priests for Life, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Harry Jackson – Hope Christian Church, Beltsville, Maryland
  • Narayanachar L. Dialakote – Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, Lanham, Maryland
  • D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Imam Mohamed Magid – All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center, Sterling, Virginia
  • Sajid Tarar – Baltimore, Maryland
  • Greg Laurie – Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, California
  • Jack Graham – Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas
  • His Eminence Geron Archbishop Demetrios of America – Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  • Rosemarie Logan Duncan, Canon of Worship, Washington National Cathedral – Episcopal Church
  • David Jeremiah – Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon, California
  • Ronnie Floyd – Cross Church, Springdale, Arkansas
  • David Swanson – First Presbyterian Church, Orlando, Florida
  • Jesse Singh – Chairman of the Board of Sikh Associations of Baltimore, Maryland
  • Ian McIlraith – Soka Gakkai International - USA, Los Angeles, California
  • Anthony Vance – National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States
  • Cissie Graham Lynch – Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Ramiro Pena – Christ the King Baptist Church, Waco, Texas
  • Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. – Roman Catholic Church
  • Darrell Scott – New Spirit Revival Center, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
It just doesn't do anyone any good to pretend we're all the same and all praying to the same God. The plain and simple fact is that we're not. These different religions and denominations are different for a reason - because they believe and teach different things! Contradictory things. And those difference matter. This is not just a list of different motivational speakers (although that's sometimes all people think religion is), these are people who all claim to be speaking an eternal truth. And I'm sorry, they're not all correct. If Baha'ism is correct, then the others are wrong. If Islam is the truth, then Christianity is a lie. The best way to "coexist" is not to pretend we're all the same, but to understand that we're not and talk to each other on that basis.

So, we'll see what happens now, when the crowds empty out. How will Mr. Trump be as a president? I am hopeful. He (as all presidents) is in my prayers. To the only one, true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Just to be clear :-)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

LCMSU

Went to the LCMSU Campus Ministry Conference this week with some college students from my church. It was a well-done conference and close enough to us (Univ. of Maryland) that it was easy for us to attend this year. I was also able to make some new contacts and so maybe have the chance to help some summer interns who will be in this area this summer.