Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I am again away from home, visiting the ill relative, dealing with some of the “business” that comes up at these times.  That includes negotiating the financial system by poking into the relative’s finances and trying to figure out how to pay the bills, make the money stretch, and then, eventually, get this person “into the system” so that the government pays for the care at the end of life.


[We have, by the way, a government in this country which is committed, at least in principle, for care of the elderly, assuming that people spend their own money first and the family is able to negotiate through the paperwork maze.  I’ve been told that it isn’t an adversarial system, but that if the government people find that the family is trying to hide assets, that’s it, no help.  And I think our elderly would want it that way.  They are usually not the type to want to go on “welfare.”}


So yesterday I was checking into alternatives to the current care my relative is getting.  The big question is, what to do when the money runs out, which place will take the lower payments that the government pays out, which means Medicaid.  Many places won’t take this.  I checked out a very nice care facility yesterday that takes an alternate government program.  The administrator was very surprised that I hadn’t yet been told of this program.  I was too, considering we’ve been to see social workers, a lawyer, and a person in the office of aging.  Then there is talk of the assessment and the long waiting list. 


I know that this is where I have to be and what I have to be doing at this stage of my life.  But it is hard.  I make a 1000 mile round trip when I come here and I’m away from home and my usual activities, and I also have grown children to visit or be there for when they come home.  I don’t know how I will handle this when winter driving is bad.


Then there is the house:  I posted previously that “You Can’t Take It With You” applies to the nursing home as well at to heaven.  This relative never threw out anything.  The relative who lived there previously saved too much as well.  Perhaps there is money to be made in selling some old stuff, but I don’t have an interest in that.  And I don’t need a new hobby. 


Resolution for myself:  Don’t put THAT burden on my kids.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Going away again.

I'm going away again.   Five days of fun, I hope.  Since I've been gone so much, this fun trip is seeming like work, and I'm only in the packing stage.  I'm really tired. 
Then next week, I'll again be traveling for family reasons.  Each time, it is over 1000 miles round trip. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Links in a Post

Posting the links embedded in a post drives me crazy. It works about 1/2 of the time. When it doesn't work, I don't know why because I try to do it the same way each time. I also can't get consistant results with the fonts. I like to be fussy with my work, so this is annoying.

Higher Education, how do we support our students?

I spent part of last week at a conference at one of our wonderful Lutheran colleges. I know that these colleges provide an excellent education to those students who work hard to receive it. I also know that these places cost big bucks to attend. I am sure that they try their best to provide Christian support and encouragement to the students. Often, students find a sense of vocation that has the Hand of God guiding their choices.

That said, I have wondered how much our Lutheran colleges work toward teaching the students to be "of the world, but not in the world" as Christians. It is NOT evident that they teach anything counter to the American condition (and even Christian American condition!!!) of Affulenza.

I'm reposting an essay I wrote awhile ago about our colleges.

My husband and I are grads of Lutheran colleges, as are two of our children. The other child will graduate from a college of another Christian tradition. We are all "above average" intellectually and attend churches and volunteer in them.

So I guess the Lutheran colleges did their jobs: to educate us and to help build church leaders. I think often and with thankfulness of the Lutheran college I attended.

But think what a narrow segment of the population in general, and even the Lutheran population, attend Lutheran colleges. They aim to recruit the cream of the crop from high schools, maybe the top 10 or 20% of the class, and/or students that have other outstanding talents or interesting backgrounds. Given the cost of private college these days, only those people who qualify for lots of financial aid and know enough to apply for it, or those whose families have saved enough for college can afford to attend. [Or the student steps into a large loan with little education of what this means for the future. But that is the subject for another time.]

Some Lutheran denominations have a presence next to the campuses of larger state universities in the form of Lutheran Houses. How much outreach they provide I don’t know, but I did use one of these houses as a place to hang out at one university I attended.

What kind of support or encouragement do we give to the more “average” students attending state colleges? How about tech schools and smaller junior colleges? Do we encourage spiritual development in any way in students learning welding, electrician skills, police academy? Do we support a sense of vocation in those students to whom God has given great mechanical aptitude or those with an interest in hairdressing or cooking?

If someone has an obvious artistic talent or a gift of music, we might readily say that this comes from God and give that person (spiritual) vocational encouragement. Our Lutheran colleges are especially good in the area of music. But would we not want the mechanic who works on the Boeing 707 to also feel a sense of vocation or calling, and therefore be diligent in his/her work?

Even jobs that don’t take an education have value and should be honored. What hospital would keep a good reputation for very long if the cleaning staff wasn’t diligent?

People of God: let us honor all workers around us, encourage people spiritually by honoring their choice of job and vocation, encourage society to provide a living wage to all who do necessary work, no matter how “lowly.” And let’s encourage the Church to provide spiritual support and encouragement to all students, not just the top 20% of the high school classes.

Volunteer work and hobbies can also be part of a person’s vocation. Several times I have felt a strong call from God to volunteer in certain areas, mostly church related. Consequently, I don’t have a problem saying NO when I don’t feel called.

Originally posted 02/06/2006

Unexpected Stained Glass Window

The light of God breaks through the ruins of our lives in unexpected places. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pastor's Appreciation Month

The Bible tells us that our good works do come back to us. Here is a little true story about how appreciating and helping a pastor came back to help our family.

Some years ago, my mother's church got a new pastor who had a very young family. My mother volunteered to take care of the kids while they moved into their house. She continued to help with the kids off and on while they were preschoolers. Because of this, my mom became friends with the pastor's parents, who, it turns out, have a summer home in my town, so we sometimes saw him here.

Two pastorates later, this pastor's new church was in the city down the road. When my mother would visit me, she would stop to see this pastor, and when she would drive through another city, she would stop to see the pastor's parents. I urged my son to meet up with my mom at these peoples' house. He got along well with the pastor's parents and did chores for them. He became friends with another son, who, two years later, did some networking to get my son a coveted internship in a business in a large city.

Meanwhile, when I was hospitalized, that pastor visited me in the hospital because it was in the same city as his church.

I doubt that we would feel this close to a pastor that my mom had so many years ago if she hadn't gone out of her way to help him.

I copied this (see below) from Singing Owl. No matter what our job, there can't be too much appreciation.
From http://www.pastorsretreatnetwork.com/ via Singing Owl http://pastoretteponderings.blogspot.com/

12 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor

When we look at our pastor or minister what do we see? A spiritual giant? Someone who can go it alone? Someone who works a day and a half a week? A servant of the congregation? Someone who does it all?

The truth is that clergy are real people with real families, dreams, needs, desires and gifts. And like all of us, they shine best in situations where they are appreciated and supported. Here are a dozen ways you can bring out the best in your pastor:

1 Write a note of appreciation.

2 Pray for your pastor regularly.

3 Stop the rumor mill.

4 Invite him or her out to lunch, golfing, or some other shared interest, without an agenda.

5 Offer to baby-sit the kids so pastor and spouse can have an evening together; even better, offer them a gift certificate to a restaurant they enjoy.

6 Honor his or her day off – allow time for rest, personal renewal and family time.

7 In times of loss, offer sympathy, care and practical help.

8 Consider holidays and other family days – if the pastor is far from their family of origin, invite them to your celebration – no strings attached.

9 Ask him or her how you can help and then follow through.

10 Tell him or her what you’ve learned from their sermon.

11 Go to http://parsonage.org/cam/index.cfm for ideas on how to celebrate your minister during Pastor Appreciation Month.

12 Consider a sabbatical time for your pastor and find a way to provide one as needed.

Pastors Retreat Network provides pastors and their spouses with a five-day, self-directed retreat experience that is free of charge. It is a time to rest, spiritually renew, and reconnect with God and spouse. Consider how an experience like this might benefit your minister. For more information, please visit our Web site -- http://www.pastorsretreatnetwork.com/

Enjoying church???

While I was gone again this past week, I ran across a local opinion newspaper called the Reader Weekly (www.readerweekly.us). Unfortunately, they are behind in posting to the web. I do love well written opinion pieces. This newspaper is definitely full of opinions, and they don't slant to the right! It would probably go up in flames if touched by a Christian-right-Republican. It was interesting, none-the-less.

One article, by Paul Ryan, was entitled, "Nobody enjoys church, not even God." Basically, the guy doesn't like anything about traditional church services. And who ever said that we all have to have the same taste in anything? His concluding paragraph says, in part, "The main problem with church services is they just don't inspire me.....If I'm going to attend something meant to enlighten me, I'd sure as hell better feel at least partly enlightened when it's done. Instead, I just sit there bored, feeling guilty every time I check my watch.....Some church leaders would have us believe that it's our fault for not being interested but is it really? It's not my job to make church relevant. Relate to me, or I'll just stay home and watch football...."

Which begs the question, "why do people attend church anyway?"

I guess I attend both to worship (what I do) and to be fed (what comes to me) through the service. Each week the percentage of each probably varies. Sometimes I attend out of habit, sometimes because there is something special going on, and sometimes I really do want to be there to worship. A Catholic friend of mine says she would tell her kids when they complained about having to attend church, "If you don't have one thing to give thanks for from this past week, well, then you have a sad life."

But who can blame the writer, or any person who has a less-than-deep understanding of the "worship" service for feeling as he does? Perhaps this is why there is a segment of the American Christian church that uses entertainment type music and preaching and other "attractions." Maybe it is meant to hook people with the secular-type goodies, and then give a dollop of the Word of God, but maybe don't be too challenging with what part of the word is preached.

I saw a church ad in the Rochester, Mn newspaper last week for a church which stated, "We are not seeker sensitive and not purpose driven." Now that made me wonder if they are insensitive and without purpose.

Last weekend I attended the church of a relative. It is an old fashioned type of Lutheran Church. The songs dragged on and I could hardly hear anybody singing but us. The liturgy was scant (that is what is in their book.) And the preacher gave a very basic sermon based on Jeremiah 11:18-20 titled, "It's in the Lord's Hands." I felt like he was talking to me and the others as if we were in 2nd grade. The whole theme was how God takes care of His people. If this had been in my own church, you can bet I'd have found a chance to ask the pastor, "But what about ____ and ____???"

Well, as soon as we got up to leave, I said to my companion, "I don't think he could preach that sermon the Sunday after someone in his congregation was murdered." My companion responded, "And not after the Tsunami." That was not the Word of God one could fall back on during hard times.

Quite frankly, I did my best to listen well, to sing praises, to participate during the liturgy, but I didn't feel all that worshipful during those draggy hymns, nor was I fed or inspired.

Hmmmm, why attend church?