19 October 2018

The heavens declare the glory of God

And did they ever this morning!

18 October 2018

When you ask a favor from a very gifted friend...

...you end up very blessed. Thank you, Kantor Gerike! 

11 October 2018

I think Evangeline

Looks a wee bit like her mommy did...


I'm NOT a numbers person. In fact, Deaconess Bowers and I have an agreement: she takes care of numbers; I take care of words. But I got curious and asked for some further numbers today about Thy Strong Word, the radio show/podcast that I host on KFUO and that covers a chapter of God's Word a day on average. This blew me out of the water. 

I began the show in August of 2014. The average number of downloads per month that year was 2,691. By the end of the following year, 2015, that had climbed to an average monthly download of 9,973. By the end of 2016, it sat at 16,139 downloads per month. By the end of 2017 at 23,315 per month. As for 2018, we're not done yet, but as of the end of September we were hitting 32,886 average downloads per month. In the total four year life of the show through September of this year, the program has been downloaded 902,539 times! We're closing in on a million!!!

This fills my heart with great joy. There is nothing that is nearer or dearer to my heart than the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren that happens over the opened Scriptures. I hope that God's strong Word continues to gather listeners to itself and to work mightily in their lives. If you're not a regular listener, check it out. Here's today’s show with Pr. Ruback of Grace Chapel on Job 17:

08 October 2018

Three Things

I'm a bit of an obsessive optimizer. I'm always studying to see if there's a way to do something better. I tried for a bit that whole GTD system and even shelled out for Omnifocus software to help. I made my physical inbox and bought my labeller for the files and, well, you get the idea. But the more complex it got, the more my enthusiasm faded. And I looked for something, well, simpler. And I found it.

What I have found works a hundred thousand times better for me is the "three things" method. It has succeeded in clearing away piles of assignments like nothing else I've ever tried. How does it work? At its base level it’s just this: deciding the evening before what three things you will accomplish on the morrow.

I find that it works best if the top of the list is given to the thing I've been dreading or procrastinating on the most. Bust through that and the other two usually are that much easier to accomplish.

I don't include the stuff that I have to do every day (it would be cheating, for instance, for me to include: “Do Thy Strong Word radio show.”). The three things are not so much meetings or appointments that need doing, but TASKS that are in my bailiwick. Dare I say “chores”?

I’ll use today's example: first thing was contact a banner artist about a bid for some banners for the IC Chapel. I'd tried to make contact in the past, but we'd played phone tag. Today we made contact, determined next steps, and I dispatched my obligations in the next steps rather simply. Took some pictures, thought of some hymns, and shipped out an email to her. Cross that off till I hear back from her. Then I had wanted to study St. Thomas Aquinas' commentary on the chapter of Job that would be discussed in today's Thy Strong Word. Did that—he's pretty amazing—and assembled a few notes to use. Last but not least, Pr. Vieker had helpfully suggested compiling a number of prayers for the sick and for missionaries that we could offer our pastors to use during our regular chapels rather than the same set three or four prayers from the Altar Book each time. This took the most time today, but I did that, printed out a couple copies, emailed them to Deaconess Bowers who distributed to those who assist in chapel. And there it was. Three things I wanted to get done today. Three things that got done today. And now I'm in “what's up for tomorrow?” mode.

Oh, and if I think of a task during the day, but that's not on my three? I have a general page in my Reminders app that just keeps a list of tasks I need to or want to do. There's no ranking, no prioritizing. It's just a storage box to remember what I need to get done. I put anything that occurs to me in there, along with any new assignments that come my way, and then promptly stop worrying about them. Each evening, that list is the first place I examine to determine what I'll put on my Three Things list for the next day.

Part of the genius of three things is that it keeps me from feeling snowed under. I have just three things to get done today. I try to give them my all. I block out interruptions. I try to get them done in a way that I am proud of what I've done. At first, whenever I finished my three things, I'd immediately turn to the list to see what else I could knock off. But the longer I've lived with and learned to trust the simplicity of the system, the less inclined I am to do that. Instead, I give myself permission to relax a bit: read, ponder, learn something new, catch up on email, journal, go for a walk, visit with folks (that's part of my job too!), think. After all, by week's end, God willing, there will be 15 items knocked off that list even just doing three per day.

I hope all that makes some sense. It's been a life changer for me. Easy enough to keep track of and simple to maintain. Do any of you guys follow something similar?

P.S. I do keep separate three things list for personal and for work. My personal list is weekly rather than daily, and leans toward weekend warrior type stuff.

07 October 2018

Ann E. (Bullard) Pemberton

She's not buried in the cemetery where most of the family is, but oddly enough, in a plot all by herself right behind Richardsville Methodist Church, surrounded by this little iron fence.

I obviously never met this woman. She was born in 1828. But she's been part of my life as long as I can remember.

She's my paternal grandmother's maternal grandmother. Her father died when she was about three. I had several of her school books, still covered in the cloth coverings she made for them. She attended Orchard Farm School. Spellers, history books, and some English books that are some pretty tough reading! I believe Lauren has most of them now. Next to my bed is the wash-stand her husband made. In my dining room is a bench that my grandkids just ate on and that her husband made. The matching table also happens to be in my basement as my desk, and also made by Thomas.

Her visage greets me every morning and evening, from the picture hanging beside my closet and looking at the night stand that sat beside her bed a century and a half ago. In another ten years it will be 200 years since she was born. But her memory lives on. The past has never seemed to terribly distant to me. I think growing up with folks like Ann E. Pemberton explains that a bit...

The Family

Lauren, Dean and children arrived on Thursday, and so had all the kids and grandkids hanging around. It was a joy to spend a few days all together. Totally insane, understand, but a joy. Eight little ones six and under. Most days we maxed out the table (set for ten) and two high chairs and some of us ate in the living room. We had lots of laughter, crying, hooping and hollering, admonitions about inside voices, and a great time. Sawyer, oldest grandson, can be so like me in temperament that it is spooky. He had trouble a few nights actually going to sleep because he just wanted to be home. How vividly I remember my extreme discomfort spending the night anywhere but home when I was his age (truthfully, I still have the anxiety, but I've learned to manage, as he will too). I always find the hubbub a mysterious mix of jarring and delightful, and wouldn't miss it for all the world. It's the only time I wish the house were just, well, bigger. Would be wonderful to have a better and more convenient gathering space and dining area. Every once in a while, I just escaped to our bedroom, shut the door, and sipped a cup of coffee in peace, took a deep breath and then plunged back into the riotous and joyful pandemonium. Oh, and of course there was a game of liverpool for the “middle generation” (except Rebekah) and Lauren, I do believe, was the big winner. And now in the silence that is both so peaceful and so sad, Tolkein comes to mind: But all the while I sit and think of times that were before / I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.

09 September 2018


Has it really been that long? This year, it falls on a Tuesday again. The attacks were on a Tuesday. The congregations of Trinity and St. Paul's gathered at St. Paul's on Wednesday evening for a brief service of prayer. Pr. Gross spoke and reminded us who it is who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy and that it was to destroy the devil's works that the Son of God appeared among us. Then I spoke briefly and led some prayers. Here are my brief words:

We're gathered tonight, people loved by God, in the spirit of Job. Our minds shrink from the staggering numbers of those who are dead; as well as from the horrible way so many of them died. Our hearts go out to the families who are now as torn apart and devastated as any of the buildings we saw in New York or Washington - families where a mother's voice will never be heard again or a father's face never seen or a child's hand never touched again. In the face of such terrible wreckage of human lives and the unimaginable tidal wave of human sorrow, we can only ask Job to move over for a bit so that we might sit with him for a while in the dust and ashes and learn from him to turn to God in worship, because there really is nowhere else to turn.

Today is not the time to theologize about good and evil in the world. It is too soon for such. Today is the time for us to get on our knees and pray. And to do so knowing that the One to whom we pray is no stranger to the terrible things that humans do to each other, to know that He to whom we pray became One with us in our tears and in our sorrows. He knows what it is to weep at death. He has felt in His own body the irrational hatred of those who think they serve God by dishing out violence and destruction. What a comfort that in our prayers tonight, we pray to the Crucified One. And above all to the Risen One.

For Job would go on to confess "I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth and that after my skin has been destroyed nevertheless in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and not another. How my heart yearns within me."

Our prayers rise tonight to Him who walked among us as the man of sorrows, who is acquainted with our grief, and who died to conquer and destroy death's power over his people forever. We pray tonight before the God who will make the ashes live again.

Prayer -

Hear us, dear heavenly Father, as we join our prayers to those of your children throughout the world in the face of the terrible events of yesterday.

For all the children who have lost parents, let us pray to the Lord. R.
For all the parents who have lost children, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For all the husbands who have lost their wives, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For all the wives who have lost their husbands, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For all whose lives have been shattered and whose hopes and dreams have been destroyed, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the families of those brave souls who responded to others' needs only to lose their own lives, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For the firefighters and policemen, the doctors, nurses and EMTs and all those who participate in the relief effort, let us pray to the Lord, R.
For any who are still alive in the rubble, that aid may be brought to them speedily and that they not lose heart, let us pray to the Lord, R.

#9-11, #NeverForget

Giving Twitter a Try

At my son's suggestion, I'm moving to Twitter. I'll link from there to longer stuff on this blog. FB will largely become inactive; please don't try to contact me there. You can follow me here: