Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Days

It's been a busy week at the Palmer household. Thursday, Elise, John, and Lindsay sang in choir at the seminary chapel; yesterday, we made about 165 kolaches (Czech recipe from my side of the family), and the kids played in the first snow ; today, the kids were in the Christmas program (great job, kids, and great job on the piano, Elise!), we went caroling at two nursing homes and even got to sing on the radio. Also on the radio, John asked the question, "What does Christmas mean to you?" To which he replied, "The birth of Christ." The pastor asked him why that was important, and he said, "Because he died on the cross for us." Good answer!

Seeing the older folks at the nursing home, thinking about Christ's first and second comings, and the close of another year always makes me think about the brevity of life. Even my little Bethany has lost her first tooth, which is a big reminder that she isn't so little anymore!

"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Thankfully, in my lack of wisdom, Jesus is my wisdom: "God chose what is low and despised in the that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" 1 Corinthians 1:28-30

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why use the church calendar?

Do we follow the church calendar because we are stuck on outdated, rote tradition? Or could it have a salutary effect on our faith?

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Friday, December 4, 2009

All Dressed Up

Last Saturday, I got to go to a murder mystery party at a friend's house. Everyone attending got a part to play in it, and my part was a young lady in an ambassadress contest. This part required dressing up, so I had a lot of fun with that. I am very thankful that I was able to find a nice dress (thank you, seminary co-op!) I had a great time at the party.

His Coming

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:76-78 (emphasis mine)

These verses are Zechariah speaking about his son, John, and his special job to prepare for the coming of the Lord. We are also preparing for the coming of the Lord, during the “new year” in the church calendar, Advent. I have now experienced one full year of the church calendar as a Lutheran, and have found it to be enriching and Christ-focused. I like the rhythm that it gives: following the Advent of our Lord, his Passion, the time of the church. I also like the connection that it gives me to the Christians who have worshipped this way for centuries. God’s truth stands firm, and He preserves His church. I recently read a blog post in which the young writer stated that “each generation reinvents the church.” I found that to be a disturbing statement. We don’t define the church, God’s Word does. We do not fit the Word to the culture; God’s Word speaks to the world. It is His Holy Spirit, through His Word, that still convicts of sin through His Law, and brings salvation through the Gospel.

It is that Word that proclaims to us His first coming as a babe in the manger, fully God and fully man, born to atone for our sins, and that Word proclaims His second coming, as Savior and Judge.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Born of water and the Spirit - John 3:5

"Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God"

I used to believe that in the phrase "of water and the Spirit" Jesus was most likely making comparison between the "waters" of natural childbirth and spiritual rebirth. After all, Nicodemus asked the question about entering the mother's womb a second time, right?
However, after further study (and yes, a little introductory education in NT Greek was helpful), I clearly see that this cannot be the case. The phrase is most likely entirely referring to a single entity - baptism in my opinion. It is, by far, the easiest and most natural read of the text. Because they share the same preposition "of", it is HIGHLY IMPROBABLE that it is referring to two separate entities. If Jesus was intending to refer to two entities, the Gospel writer (John) would have either:
1. used two prepositions ("of water and of the Spirit"), or
2. used a comparison sentence structure, such as the statement Jesus makes in verse 6 "That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of spirit is spirit."
Of course, I am not a Greek scholar, I do not pretend to be one, and I doubt that even with seminary training, I will ever be one. Theologians will undoubtedly continue to vigorously debate the meaning of this passage. However, it appears to be simple enough to me. Jesus is talking about baptism. Period.
Also, suggesting that Jesus might be referring to natural childbirth poses an additional problem:
If God's Word is 100% true... 100% accurate, then this passage would be suggesting that "being born [through waters of childbirth]" was a requirement for entering the kingdom of heaven. That, in turn, would suggest that all children who die from abortion, stillbirth, or miscarriage are eternally doomed. God's Word is silent on the eternal destiny of such souls, and as a Bible believing Lutheran, I believe that we too must be very careful about any attempt to speak truth where the Bible is silent. It's okay to form opinions about such things as long as we aren't being presumptious to know the mind of God or speak where the Word is silent.
On the other hand, if being born naturally is not a requirement for salvation, why would our Lord even mention it? "Well... first of all you need to be born..." That would be the classic "DUHHHH!" statement of all eternity. Nicodemus understands natural childbirth... the question seems to be rhetorical in nature; Jesus is essentially saying, "no, I'm talking about things of the Spirit... you've been formally trained in the teachings of God, and you don't seem to understand the things of the Spirit."
As a Lutheran, it's quite tempting to launch into a discussion about the question of baptismal regeneration, but I'll skip least for now. :-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

He Passed!

We are rejoicing this morning after finding out that Stan passed his Greek class! It was a tough semester, which reminds us that it is God who supports and sustains us. Now Stan has officially been admitted to the seminary, and can move on in his classes. We are grateful to God beyond words!

Tonight we are going to have a family birthday party for John/celebrate Stan passing the class. It is going to be hard to concentrate on school today!

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and encouragement. It means so much to us.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Frugal Fall Idea

This year we continued our fall habit of getting pie pumpkins and decorating them with permanent markers. Lindsay took the decorating to a new level with the hats and scarves. After enjoying them as home decor, I scooped out the seeds, cut them in half, and baked them for 45 minutes at 450 degrees in a pan with 1/2 inch water. The skin peeled off easily; then I pureed them in the food processor and made 2 pumpkin pies for Stan's birthday. (Happy birthday, Stan!) I froze the remaining 2 cups for future use. After rinsing the seeds and allowing them to dry overnight, I tossed them in butter and salt, and roasted them at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Yummy, and the pumpkins only cost a total of $3. My kind of deal!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Celebrating the Reformation

Last Sunday we enjoyed a beautiful Reformation service at historic St. Paul's Lutheran church in downtown Fort Wayne. It was Elise and John's first time singing with the Homeschool seminary choir. I felt like I was in Europe in a cathedral, listening to Bach, and singing, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."
This Saturday we will celebrate at home with games, CANDY, and by watching the Luther movie. Elise drew this picture based on the DVD cover of the movie. It is one of her best drawings.
Sola Scriptura
Sola Gratia
Sola Fide
Solo Christo

Thanks be to God for preserving His Word!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lord Jesus, Think on Me

Lord Jesus, think on me
Nor let me go astray:
Through darkness and perplexity
Point out Your chosen way.

Lord Jesus, think on me
That, when this life is past,
I may the eternal brightness see
And share Your joy at last.

By Synesius of Cyrene, C. 365-C. 414, Verses 4 and 5

This is my meditation today, after the flu has gone through the other children, and yesterday hit Stan. I am thankful to have been able to care for everyone, and glad that they are through the worst of it. Stan has a midterm on Tuesday, which he is studying for when he is not resting.

"For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from Him comes my salvation." Psalm 62:1

Your prayers are appreciated!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

To KC and Back,,,with the Flu

We had a great time in KC at my half-sister, Whitney's wedding. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony at the Longview Mansion, followed by a lovely reception on site. They had a photo booth for a memory book at the reception, which was lots of fun, even if we couldn't all fit inside. Also, the older two girls have been wanting me to post that they have braces, which you can probably see in the photo booth pictures. We came home Monday, and since Wednesday Elise has had the flu. So far, it is contained to just her. I feel like a germophobe, but we don't want Stan to come down with it and possibly have to drop out of Greek. If he misses more than a day, he thinks he would have to do that. So, we will keep you updated. Prayers are appreciated!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

We purchased three ingredients at a total cost of under $13.00. This will make 8 batches of liquid laundry soap. When I made 1 batch it filled four 32 load containers. That makes one 32 load container for 41 cents (or a little over 1 cent per load)!
1. Soap (You need one bar per batch). We chose Ivory.
2. Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (Available in the laundry area)
3. 20 Mule Team Borax (Available in the laundry area)

Step One: Shred, chop or shave your soap into small pieces.
Step Two: Measure and start heating water. You will need 6 cups of water heated to melt the soap in a sauce pan. Add the soap and water to the pan.
Step Three: Once the soap is all dissolved, you stir in half a cup of Borax and half a cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Stir over the heat until it is all dissolved.
Step Four: Remove from heat and pour into a large bucket. I used a five gallon bucket, but a smaller bucket would have been just fine.
Step Five: Add four cups more of hot water to the bucket and stir until well blended.
Step Six: Add one gallon plus six cups of cold water to the mixture. Mix well. Let sit for 24 hours.

Store it in your old laundry soap bottle or other plastic container for easy pouring.
Ready to use! I used 1/2 of a cup per load. It looks like a liquid gel.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Incarnation-a Life Affirming Confession

In Sunday School we are going through Luther's Small Catechism. The question was posed, "When did Jesus, though fully God, become fully man.?" Our reply was, "When he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary." I had never thought about how we confess life, from the moment of conception, when we confess our faith together through the Apostles' Creed:
"And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy spirit, born of the virgin Mary...."
and in the Nicene Creed:
"who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man..."
In contrast, here is our condition:
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me," Psalm 51:5.
From the moment of conception we are sinful, which is something that can only be charged against a human being, not a clump of cells. Thanks be to God for sending Jesus, the sinless God Man, to take on our sin.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bethany's 6th Birthday!

On September 7th, we celebrated Bethany's birthday, (her real birthday was on the 10th.) We had cake and ice-cream, opened presents, and played her favorite game: Memory Game (which she is very good at). It's hard to believe that she is six years old. Happy Birthday Bethany!

My Very Early Morning Just Started Under Nancy's Pancakes

The strange title for this post is the mnemonic we used to remember the order of the planets. Can you say the planets in order? :)
John, Lindsay, and Bethany are studying Astronomy for science this year. We made a model of the solar system, and Stan graciously took time away from studying Greek to tack our model to the ceiling of the girls' room. They are excited to have the solar system hanging over their beds (even if it is just balloons).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Established and Mobile

After moving, and looking ahead to more moves in the not so distant future, what a comfort to know that our home is not tied to a particular house, but that home is where our family is. I am very thankful for God's provision, forgiveness, and strength, and consider myself very blessed to have a family. Good friends help with the transitions, such as my dear friend Candice, who recently sent me this beautiful plaque.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

School Days

On August 26th, we started school. So far, it has gone well and we have all been enjoying it. Mom and I both wish that we could put all the school excitement in a bottle and open it in January, when things feel much more dull. This year, I am in 9th grade, and am excited to begin my first year in high school! John is in 5th grade, Lindsay is in 3rd, and Bethany is in Kindergarten. She is excited to do more "big kid" subjects with her siblings. The pictures I have posted above are of Lindsay's school rules, which she made up herself, and some of our school books.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guests in the Parsonage

We had our first overnight guests at the parsonage last weekend, our dear friends the Allens, whom we met when we lived in Lawrence. We toured the seminary, played Apples to Apples, watched the film "Luther", and just had fun being together. Darrell Allen enjoys photography, and took our pictures Sunday after church. These are the ones taken by our camera while he shot his photos on film.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kansas City visit

We had our first visit to Kansas City last weekend, to attend our nephew's lovely wedding. We were thankful to fit in visits with family and friends, go swimming, and to be able to stay at our assistant pastor's home. The kids were relieved that we arrived at a reasonable hour (unlike when on the first trip here), and that we made it home through a very heavy downpour. Today we are getting ready for our first overnight guests at the parsonage, a couple that we have been friends with since our days in Lawrence. They will stay with us through Monday, then we will start school on Wednesday. We are looking forward to getting back into the school routine, and are glad to have completed most of the "to-do's" associated with moving (although I am sure there are still some more lurking "to-do's" that we have overlooked....)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Church Picnic

Today, after church, my family and I went to Zion Lutheran's church picnic. First, we ate a very tasty lunch of hotdogs, hamburgers, salads, desserts, etc. After we ate, we went to the parking lot, where a moonwalk, cotton candy stand, and a dunking tank were set up. Although we were standing around in 90 degree weather, we all had a great time! At the dunking tank, kids had a blast doing the dunking and being dunked. John and I were dunked several times, and we even got Dad to do it once! Here are some pictures of the event.

Christ Did Everything... You Did Nothing!

“It is one thing to choose Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, to give him one’s heart and commit oneself to him, and that he now accepts one into his little flock; it is a very different thing to believe on him as a Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one’s heart to him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks his walking cane through it, and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him. That is how [salvation] is.”

- Bo Giertz - "The Hammer of God"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why serve my neighbor?

One of the many things I appreciate about Lutheranism is that it is straight-forward. Why do I serve my neighbor? Does God need my service? No. I serve my neighbor because my neighbor needs my service. Since Christ’s much needed forgiveness covers me in all that I do, I am free to meet the needs of others, no longer bound by fear of “not serving God enough.” Whatever role I fulfill in my daily life, whether wife, mother, friend, or neighbor, I am living out the vocation God has given me. Listening to Dr. Gene Veith speak about vocation got me thinking about these things. Here’s the link:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Even the Wind and the Waves

OK, I'll be perfectly honest... Doing these preparations for seminary without keeping a steady income going feels... weird. And I have my moments when I wonder how things are going to work out financially, time spent with my family, etc., etc.
I came across this sermon today, written by Pastor William Cwirla. A very challenging and encouraging reminder that we can trust our Lord Jesus in all things, no matter how difficult the situation. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting started at the sem

Slowly but surely I'm getting things ready for starting classes in the fall. I got my student ID card - at least the photo looks better than the one for my Indiana driver's license. I've completed some additional paperwork, and I bought a few supplies at the bookstore. Bought my Greek textbook back in February, and I have been reviewing vocabulary words for the first 10 chapters, at the recommendation of several "battle hardened" summer Greek students. I am so very grateful for my assistant pastor back home for doing some tutoring with me. It has helped tremendously.

I also bought a new laptop computer, and as my first official act as a student, I logged into the seminary network and took a shot at the Old Testament "Intro" exam, to see if I could quiz out. 100 multiple-choice questions with a 1 hour time limit. I passed on the first attempt! (It wasn't exactly a stellar score, but I passed.) Overall, the exam was a little harder than I expected... About 40 questions were fairly easy, about 25 or so required a little thinking, and the rest were what I would call really tough.
Next up: see if I can quiz out of the New Testament Intro course. Hope to take that next week.
UPDATE: I passed the New Testament exam today, with much rejoycing. I also enjoyed my first "Gemutlichkeit" at the seminary, immediately following the completion of my exam. (That's the "fellowship-with-students-and-professors-to-discuss-theology-over-a-Lutheran-beverage" that happens each Friday afternoon. It's a long-standing tradition at the sem.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Elise Turns 14

Last week on Thursday, July 16, I turned 14! I got cards and a gift from my family, and later that evening we went to the church's ice cream social to eat supper. That evening, Mom and Dad and I watched Hitchcock's Vertigo. It was a good day and I am very blessed to have such a great family!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Several months back Stan announced that when we moved to Indiana, he wanted me to buzz his hair. New career, new haircut. I was relieved that I didn't mess it up. Here he is with his handsome new buzz, handing his (no longer needed) hairbrush over to John.
Besides this change, here are a some others that I find interesting:
1. There is a light pole at the back of our driveway. The back of my van met up with it the first time I went to town alone. Thankfully, the sun popped the small dent out of the back hatch. Whew. I thought light poles were in the grass....
2. We couldn't smile (according to Indiana law) when we had our driver's license pictures taken. I'm glad I can't scan those pictures onto the blog....
3. The announcer on the local radio station reads all the traffic tickets given out in our area...good thing he didn't see me back into the lamp post, or he might have read it on the news.
4. We only have to walk about 50 steps to get to church, which is nice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More Pictures of Our Home...

In this batch we have the kids' rooms (we found Elise's comforter set free at the clothing co-op at the seminary. It looks great with her 4 post bed!). We also have Lindsay's desk that she made out of a flat box, complete with drawers, made with no assistance from us. The younger girls have had a blast with the boxes, which are on the side of their room not in the picture. I tried taking pictures of their other creations (such as a clubhouse), but the pictures just didn't do them justice. Lindsay wanted to let everyone know that she made a telescope holder for the clubhouse.
The whole house was repainted a nice neutral color before we moved in, so we are trying to be conservative about how many pictures we hang, since we will only be here a couple of years. We are so thankful to be here, and it feels like home now that the pictures are hung and boxes are either unpacked or stashed away!

The Long-Awaited Pictures of Our Home

One of my favorite things about this house is the kitchen. It is brand new except the stove, which is newer than what we had in our previous house. The cabinets are actually a medium wood tone, but it is cloudy today, so they look darker. Another favorite is the "game room" at the top of the stairs. Enough room for a card table, and the linen closet is big enough for linens AND games, blocks, train set...with the help of a few wire shelves. Also in this batch of pix is our room (we ended up taking a smaller room downstairs, since our queen size box springs wouldn't fit up the staircase-why did we get rid of that antique full-size bed 5 years ago?), dining room, and living room. There is new carpet downstairs, and hardwood floors upstairs. -Dana

Ice Cream...and pie!

We had a great time at the ice cream much that this is the ONLY picture we took. Elise remembered to take a picture right before we left. Bethany was happy because she had such a big bowl of ice cream. The food was delicious (besides the meal and ice cream, they were serving pie!!) We also enjoyed visiting with people, and the church raised $2300 for the African mission.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ice Cream Social... country style!

Today we prepped for the big annual church ice cream social. This church may be small, but when it comes to ice cream socials, they do it up big and do it right! The ladies and gents pooled their talents and made approximately 40 gallons of homemade vanilla ice cream. Stan was helping with manning the ice cream freezers, and Elise helped in the kitchen by keeping talley of the number of the "finished" ice cream containers coming in from outside and the individual quarts that were packed. This, by the way, is going to be a fundraiser for a mission project in Africa.

So how do you make 40 gallons of ice cream in one afternoon? Well, for starters, you start collecting ingredients way in advance and have LOTS of help lined up. Ice cream production started at 2PM and finished at 6 PM, just in time for the Wednesday evening dinner before church service. We had about 16 people working together. It also helps if you have eight electric ice cream freezers going simultaneously. Roughly 67 cups of sugar were used. For those familiar with making homemade ice cream, making one six quart freezer container alone requires a fair amount of crushed ice and salt; we mixed up about 26 of those babies although I didn't keep track how much ice and salt we used.

Stan and Elise worked at the church for approximately 4 hours. But boy, did that work pay off; those ice cream samples were a hit! Pictures to be posted later. :-)

Here are some additional tools that come in handy for making that much ice cream:

- 2 gigantic heavy duty plastic tubs (about 3 ft. in diameter).
- three large (double layer) "canvas" bags (roughly the size of lawn-size trash bags).
- 4' x 8' piece of 1/2" steel plate
- one tractor equipped with a backhoe
- a couple of pairs of welding gloves.

OK... here's the puzzler, folks: What were these tools used for???

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

About the parish here...

This church has been around for a LONG time... It's over 150 years old. Some of the older headstones in the cemetery are dated in the 1850's and 1860's. I'm not sure the exact age of the building, but I'm guessing it was built in the 1880's, and the parsonage was probably built in the 1890's. Despite the age of the facilites, this small congregation has done a very good job in maintaining the building, offices, and parsonage, and adding functions that make a church attractive, such as a nursery with video feed, DVD and audio recordings for shut-ins.
The church has two services each week (Sunday and Wednesday). The pastor along with his assistants (a vicar, plus two student workers), visit four area nursing homes and conduct brief chapel services at each one. The church also has a weekly radio program that airs on a local AM station.
Perhaps the most unique outreach "ministry" the church offers (I don't really like using the term "ministry" in this context, but you get the idea) is an exercise program that is available to anyone in the community. Our church facility has a nicely equipped work-out room, complete with exercise bikes, treadmills, weights, rowing, etc.

With all of the functions the church has going on, you can image that the pastor keeps a rather busy schedule... Indeed he does. In fact, this is not his regular "day job"... He also has an executive position at the seminary. And here's the kicker: he is in his mid 70's!!! I would defy just about anyone half his age to keep up with this guy. He is absolutely amazing.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome to Northern Indiana!

Greetings from Northern Indiana! On July 1, we began on our big moving adventure. For those of you who haven't heard our moving story, here are some highlights:

1. We almost left the piano in KC. After three failed attempts to get it on the truck (can you imagine having to roll a piano back down the moving ramp after moving it halfway up?), we finally loaded it, with the help and intelligence of a neighbor and Dana's brother-in-law.

2. We finally got the truck loaded (top to bottom), about an hour and a half later than our contract said we had to be out of the house. Thankfully, the buyers had stopped by earlier on moving day, and it wasn't a problem. We were loaded and ready to go, and the battery in the van was dead. (It's always something, right? *Sigh*.) We pushed it over by Stan's car, and he gave it a jump. Needless to say, we left KC quite a bit later than planned (2:30 p.m.)

3. Our two parakeets, Bert and Ernie, came along with us on our trip. Elise is the main caretaker of the birds, and so she had the priviledge of keeping the bird cage steady almost the whole way to Indiana. (She wouldn't have let anyone else do it anyway...) They had a pretty good trip, although they were pretty nervous, especially towards the end of the trip.

4. After an eleven hour drive, we reached our destination in Indiana by 2:30 a.m., Eastern Time. We had some very tired troopers! Thankfully, we didn't have to drive all the way to our new house. We spent the night in a dorm at the seminary.

5. At 8:30 a.m. the moving company called and said our truck was a day ahead of schedule (yay!, but Dana would have liked a little more sleep...). We followed the pastor that Stan will be working with out to the parsonage. That evening, our moving truck arrived and the seminary moving committee had it unloaded in less than two hours (too bad loading wasn't that fast!). We were showered with welcome, food, and friendship. We were exhausted, but grateful to be in this beautiful place, in this new chapter of our lives.

And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
-Philipians 4:19

Posted by Dana and Elise... peanut gallery comments by Stan