Monday, February 27, 2012

Heavenly Math

Do you ever play “Nerts”?  I do.  It’s one of the only card games I will play with my kids because it doesn’t involve any adding.  I’m horrible at adding, and at math in general, which I used to feel bad about until I read about the life of C.S. Lewis and found out that he was really bad at math too, and look how much people like him.  So anyway, as I was saying, Nerts is fun card game that involves building piles of cards in order.  If you are stacking upon your personal card piles, you must stack them in descending order and you must alternate colors, i.e. If I had a black ten (of any suit), next I would lay down a red nine (of any suit), and so forth, and I could continue this descent of cards in that pattern.  But, if I chose to lay down cards in the shared card piles in the middle of the table, I would need to start with an Ace of a certain suit and then stack cards of that suit and color in ascending order until I get to the King.  Your main goal in the game is to get rid of all of your cards, upon which your cry “Nerts!” and you win the game.  I explained all of this to you so that I could also elaborate on a spiritual truth that God revealed to me recently. 

In her book, Practical Theology for Women, Wendy Horger Alsup says that, “We have an outward, earthly reality in which we’re perplexed, persecuted, and wasting away [descending!]…In contrast, we also have an inward, eternal reality that reflects our sanctification, God’s renewal and transformation [ascending!] of our depraved souls into children who mirror God’s glory.  It is not natural for us to focus on what God is doing on the inside, but if we are to have any hope of enduring our earthly reality, then we  need to “fix our eyes” on this internal reality.”

And here’s what I thought of:  I thought of the game of Nerts!  You know, the ascending thing in one pile and the descending thing in the other.  Our lives, when we are Christ-followers are really like that.  And if you think about it long enough, it’s super exciting.  Because even though this earthly “tent” of my body is steadily billowing down—it takes a lot of work just to keep some air in the rain fly—my spiritual self—Christ in me—is just gearing up and getting better and brighter every day.  Woo Hoo!  That is encouraging news!  I can work and fight and resist, but no matter how much I oppose the idea, my physical self is fading.  On the other hand, if I work and obey and discipline myself to listen to God’s voice, my spirit will grow and become strong and victorious—and nothing will be able to hurt me.  I am completely secure and safe in God’s hands.  No amount of bruising and battering in my physical life can threaten my future because He has put the deposit of his precious Holy Spirit in me. 

Still having trouble with them, there cards?  Check it out:

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
   shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (Proverbs 4:18)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

…but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.(Isaiah 40:31)

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Earth+time = deterioration

Heaven+time = renewal

Now that’s math that even C.S. and I can understand. 


Friday, February 24, 2012

Why don’t we?

It’s time for another Why don’t we?  Actually, it was time yesterday, but I didn’t get it done and I figure that this is a leap year anyway so I have a free day to use as I want.  Right?

I have two questions this week and since I don’t think about my responses to those questions until I sit down here to type, let’s see what comes out of my fingertips today.  Here goes…

Confused and also in Huxley writes:

(In response to last week’s article) Is the whole yesteryear thing also why the postal service keeps increasing postage rates?”

Actually, Confused, I think you are confused, because if the USPS wanted to keep their postal rates in tune with their whole yesteryear image, they would reduce the cost and put old presidents on them. Instead, we mail our letters with sticker stamps of Pixar movies characters, or famous paintings, or Bonsai trees, or fuzzy animals, which I think are all way cuter than any of the old presidents that I can remember with the exception, maybe, of Abraham Lincoln.  So, I guess I would say they’re going great guns on catching up with the modern area in the stamp thing, but a little slower with the transportation thing…at least in Iowa…where we don’t have hydroplanes.

And for my next question;  Barbie and Ken from Ames (real live people, not from Mattel, and having nothing at all to do with Barbie Riding Club), write:

“Why aren't men Gentlemanly any more? Helping females (and especially spouses) with the door, packages (grocery bags) gardening, diapers, laundry, etc., etc.? Is it the NFL or laziness?”

Hmmm.  Now that’s a thinker. I don’t believe that football games or laziness are causing America’s men to shrug off their chivalrous duties.  I think that American women are just in a hurry and that the men are just too slow to catch them.  I know that when I was little my mom walked so fast that I had to jog beside her to keep up; why do you think I became a runner?  And I think maybe they would love to hold the door open for said women, but by the time they reach the threshold, the racing female has already gone in and out…on to her next task.  As far as carrying the packages, and doing gardening, diapers, and laundry, maybe they are just afraid they will do it wrong and that then they will be in more trouble—just for snapping the onesie on the outside of the outfit, or folding the T-shirts with a crease down the middle.  We, females, are a persnickety bunch, you know, and I think our men would be willing to assist us if we celebrated rather than criticized. 

And crying helps too.  You might try that. Even though most men don’t carry hankies anymore, they will probably offer to get you a Kleenex…and then maybe they will offer to throw the used one away—now that is the mark of a true gentleman.


OK. I did them both.  Now send me more of your questions so I can answer them with all the grey matter my brain can muster up.  Go!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Progeny Plumbing Party

Tonight I had the privilege of cleaning out a shower drain with both of my daughters.  It was a marvelous time of bonding.

The girls had been complaining that their shower was draining extra slowly for the last few weeks so, finally tonight, we decided to take action.  My first step was one of avoidance of the grossness;  I put baking soda and vinegar down the drain and hoped for a cleansing explosion of the clog.  Bubbles formed, but it was kind of like one of those volcanoes that percolates for years but never actually does anything.  And the water didn’t go down.  Then Shay had the bright idea of sticking a stretched out metal hanger down the part of the drain we could reach—you see, it was one of those plunger type drains and we didn’t think we were able to remove it—and she was unsuccessful at bringing up anything of value.  But, while Shay was digging, I ran and typed “how to unclog tub drains” into Google, and wala!, a you-tube video popped right up and told me how to become an instant plumber (minus the crack).  So, feeling very proficient, I went to the garage and procured the correct tools and successfully loosened the top of the drain—thus allowing us all to peer down into the abyss.  Notice that I haven’t mentioned my other daughter yet; that’s because while Shay and I were busy beavers, being home-improvers, Tess was sitting on the (closed!) toilet gagging and saying things like, “You’re doing fine” in the stupid Barbie voice from an old Barbie Riding Club computer game she used to play.  Oh, and she was also holding a plastic grocery bag—far away from herself—so that she could catch whatever we found down there.  She felt like she was really extending herself in this role, even though Shay and I were both already covered in sludge (Tess also gags on things like bananas, and upon hearing any type of disgusting story that involves people eating insects or sheep eyes or things like that).  When the drain was unfettered by the closer, Shay first reached her rubber-gloved hand down there to try to remove the unknown (she was going to use her bare hand because her jerry-rigged hanger contraption wasn’t working, but I stopped her), but then found it was deeper than she could reach, so, after I passed a screwdriver over Tess’ head—she didn’t even know this because her eyes were closed—Shay pulled an Absalom-worthy chunk of hair from the drain.  It was not pretty.  But Tess held her breath and held the Fareway bag out so Shay could drop it in.  Then Tess promptly ran off and disposed of it elsewhere. She was proud of her involvement in this successful venture.  When the older daughter returned, we again, tried the vinegar and soda experiment and got more impressive results.  But the best part of all…the water drained out the tub and the grossness was far, far away!

Shay and I are now feeling pretty confident, like we saved ourselves tons of money because we neither purchased Drano nor called the plumber.  And we went beyond our disgustedness to better the world around us.  Tess is also feeling very good about herself because she didn’t throw up—not even a little bit--and she thinks she’s super funny when she talks like Barbie.

I think Mattel needs to create something called “Barbie Home Improvement Club” to inspire the next generation of girls to clean their drains themselves—and not just be stuck holding the bag. 

Just think of the possibilities!

And by way, even though our fame will spread far and wide because of my massive blog readership, Shay and I are not up for hire, but Tess, aka Barbie, might be able to encourage you over the phone as you tackle your own creature from the black lagoon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why don’t we?

It’s the second week of my new series and I already have a reader question!  Isn’t that so exciting? 

Angie from Huxley writes: “The question I pondered yesterday: Why, in this world of high-tech efficiency, is the US Postal Service still hiring people to drive their cars around and put mail in everyone's mailboxes? I drove behind a mail carrier and the whole thing seemed so slow and out-dated. I don't have a solution though! Any thoughts, my friend...?”

Well, yes.  I have lots of thoughts about everything because I think all the time.  Here’s what I am thinking now:

The reason that the US Postal System (USPS) still drives those cute little white trucks with the steering wheel on the right side is NOT so they can annoy you with their stopping and starting—though, dear reader, I know that it can feel like that especially when you live in a big metropolis like Huxley, Iowa.  The reason that this antiquated practice is still in existence is because America is obsessed with speed and efficiency and the USPS is trying to remind everyone to slow down, get out and walk, and meet your neighbors.  It is trying to capture a little of “yesteryear America”—ever notice how the carriers even wear short pants—kind of like knickers, heh? 

Every single household in America has a mail address of some kind and the post man delivers to every one of these.  And he drives his little white truck to most of them.  In a way, America’s postman is kind of like a real live Santa that even evangelical Christian homeschool parents can let their little ones believe in without fear of condemnation. And in the same way, his little white truck* is like Santa’s sleigh full of exciting junk mail and bills! 

So, though I don’t have a solution for your problem, Angie, I’m not sure you need one.  Maybe you should just change your paradigm regarding this age-old delivery system and learn to appreciate it’s quaintness and predictability.   Or maybe, next time you see the postal Santa in his sleigh on wheels, you just need to find a different route home.  Either way works.


*By the way, the little Santa truck is not the only way the
USPS delivers it’s mail.  Look what I found on www.aboutusps.comThe Postal Service moves mail using planes, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, helicopters, subways, float planes, hovercrafts, T-3s, street cars, mules, snowmobiles, bicycles and feet.  

I wish my mailwoman would deliver my mail in a hovercraft.  Now that would make the ol’ postal service look all tech-savy and modern, don’t ya think?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Forever Valentine

For Brent…

One time when we were young and in love

you snuck in my room to hide them.

One dozen boxes of sweet little hearts

it took me forever to find them.

But then when I read the sweet little words:


I knew that you wanted me to be yours;

A forever valentine.


Monday, February 13, 2012

‘member that time?

‘Member that time when I was little and we went to an airport and my sisters and I got to sit in little chairs with TV’s attached to them?  And remember how thrilling that was—to watch a mini TV in a chair in a place that wasn’t your house?  And member how we used to build little lego cars and pretend to put a TV in the car?--which was very fanciful because we knew that would never happen.  And member, too, how the Jetson’s could talk to people on the phone and see them at the same time?  Whoa, now that was super futuristic and cool.

Guess what guys?  It’s no big deal now to carry your own device into the airport and watch movies while you’re waiting for your flight—and on your flight for that matter.  And you can watch that same movie when you are riding in your car from your own car’s DVD player!  And also, you can do something called Skype and you can see who you are talking to on the phone—or the computer!!

So, I guess that means that the airport chair TV thingee isn’t nearly as cool now. 

And I guess it also means that we have officially entered the future. 

And that I am officially old. 

And that most of you reading this don’t even know who Astro is.

Look it up on your iphone 4.  Or your Ipad.  Or your laptop.  Or the encyclopedia, if you know what that is.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Jesus’ Jacket

Josh is a new 10 year old friend of mine—sweet and cuddly and loveable...and sometimes angry. Josh and his family live in our basement apartment and occasionally this anger gets Josh into trouble…because sometimes he doesn’t control it…but this week was a different story.  Let me tell it to you:

The other day as I was preparing to pick up Cole from basketball practice, Josh asked if he could ride along.  I said he could, but that he would need to wear a jacket since it was chilly outside. Being close to the mud room, we grabbed the first available coat—one with a Haverkamp Properties insignia embroidered on the front.  Little did I know, but Josh really liked wearing the coat…so much so that he asked if he could wear it to school the next day.  I said yes, and so he did. But before he did, his mom showed him the name on the jacket and told him not to disgrace it.

Fast forward to afternoon.  Josh arrived home from school and immediately came upstairs for his daily hug and chat.  He said excitedly, “Hey, Tori, guess what happened today?”  I told him to tell me, and this is what he said, “Today at school, some kid got in a fight with another kid and was kicking him and hitting him and then he started in on me, and I just wanted to fight him because I was so mad, but then I remembered--I was wearin’ the jacket.  So I walked away.”  I praised Josh for being such a wise boy and for doing the right thing. 

And then I got to thinking.  I need to constantly remember Whose jacket I am wearing. 

As a child of the King, God has clothed me with garments of salvation  and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).  He has come to give me “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).

And I am told to clothe myself with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14) and to “Clothe [myself] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12).  Not only that, but I am instructed to put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, [I] may be able to stand [my] ground, and after [I] have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)

As an image bearer of the Lord, I have a great responsibility to show Jesus to the world.  When I lose control, it’s the Lord’s reputation that suffers.  When I serve myself, I forfeit His glory.  As Christ’s ambassador, then, I need to remember…I’m wearin’ the jacket.

And I don’t want to stain it.


A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why don’t we?

Today marks the beginning of a new series of questions I ask myself.  Send me questions that you ask yourself and see how long I can ramble on about them. 

Yesterday as I was thinking of someone, the word “nincompoop” came to mind.  What a great word, nincompoop.  I mean who doesn’t like saying nincompoop?  It sounds a little bit risqué with the p--p at the end, but it is a perfectly acceptable word to use. It’s a way nicer word than, say, “jerk” or “loser”, and by saying the word nincompoop, you automatically add colloquial value points to your everyday vocabulary.

Why do we not use this word anymore? describes a nincompoop as “a foolish or stupid person” . I know some of those, don’t you?  So, join me in my new nincompoop campaign.  I vow to say nincompoop at least once a day for the next 7 days.  Maybe by then, it will become a valuable diamond in my dialect.

How about you?  Don’t be a nincompoop, try something new!  (If you didn’t notice, that rhymed—I mean the you/new part.)



The way of a nincompoop seems right to him,
   but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 12:15 TRV (Tori’s Revised Version)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flossing Philosophy

So I read an article yesterday that said I would probably live longer if I flossed my teeth every day—something about the bacteria getting in the bloodstream, triggering inflammation in the arteries, predisposing one to heart disease. Actually it said I would probably live the longest if I flossed twice a day.

I don’t know, guys, I really hate flossing.  So…I’m weighing my options here.  In my younger years I was a heavy-duty, never-miss-a- night flosser because I had no life and because I was very militant about certain things even if I hated them.  But, then I met Prince Charming and stopped being so anal about everything.  And I stopped flossing (sure, blame it on poor Brent).  Now I still floss occasionally, like if we eat corn on the cob, or popcorn, or if I have apple peel caught in my teeth, but I do not floss regularly (I may or may not have lied to my dentist about this.  Come on, he didn’t specify what he meant by “regularly”).  And I never floss twice a day…but I’m considering it.  Are years gained at 81 worth splatters on my mirror now?  And the time I spend cleaning the mirrors?  Am I OK with cutting off the circulation in the wrapping hand twice a day every day just to gain a few more hours?  Am I up to the twice daily frustration of running out of floss before I run out of teeth, or would I rather live so long that I lose my teeth?  Hmmm…this would eliminate the flossing activity.  Is the pain of sticking both of my hands in my mouth morning and night worth a few more golden years with lots more aches and pains? Is picking up that stray piece of floss that missed the garbage can equal to watching my grandchildren have grandchildren?  Food for thought ( a little pun there, in case you missed it).

I don’t know.  The jury is still out on this one.  Am I going for quality of life now with mediocre dental health?  Or am I aiming for most years lived with a fantastic smile and fresh breath to boot?

Well, I tell ya, here’s what I think I’ll do;  I’ll floss my teeth tonight—twice, to make up for my morning laziness, and if I wake up feeling younger tomorrow and the next day, and if it seems like my Mary Kay anti-aging products are really kicking in, I will attribute it to my newly acquired habit.  And then maybe I will stop running and start flossing four times a day because I bet the more you floss the younger you get.  Look at Betty White.  She’s looking pretty good for 89 years old—she’s probably a die-hard flosser.

Or maybe I’ll just forget I ever read the article and find some other study that says eating handfuls of chocolate chips every day will make me into a centenarian.*

What will you do?  Your life is waiting.


*A Centenarian is a person that lives to 100—probably because they flossed at least twice a day.  It is not a Centurion which is an officer of the Roman army who commanded 100 men, and it is not a Centaur, which is a Greek mythological creature which is part man part horse.  I would never aspire to either of the latter two.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rockin’ Daniel

I studied through the book of Daniel last month, while sitting by my fireplace in my polka dotted chair, and I tell you, Daniel rocks.  Let me show you why.  Hang with me here while I have you read the passage from Daniel 6 that precipitated my evaluation of this amazing man:

“It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: “O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Before I gush about how infatuated I am with Daniel, please remember this;  any power or special skill that Daniel had came from God, but it was because Daniel was obedient to Him that God was able to work mightily through Daniel.  I know this and I think people that trust God are awesome.  And so we proceed with the evaluation…

3 Reasons that I think Daniel was Super Awesome:

1.  Daniel’s reputation preceded him.

Daniel had so distinguished himself by his exceptional (aka God-given) qualities that people noticed—important people noticed!  Daniel recognized the things he was good at and he did them to the best of his ability.  Daniel did not settle for mediocrity.

2. Daniel lived his life to glorify God.

He did not let the worldview of that society taint him.  Instead of letting life just “happen”, Daniel determined that his life would not be polluted by corruption or deceit.  People noticed this too.

3.  When Daniel learned about a decree which would most certainly sentence him to a gory demise, he didn’t panic like I would have.

Daniel simply went home, got down on his knees and prayed to thank God—just like he always did. Did you get that?  JUST LIKE HE ALWAYS DID.  Daniel was so confident that God was in control of things that he just kept on doing what he’d always done—he trusted God…and believed that He was still in control…even though Daniel’s circumstances made it look like He wasn’t.  Wow and wow. 

And guess what? The big cats didn’t eat him.  And guess what else?  The king who had put him there was so impressed by the God that Daniel worshipped, that he issued a decree that in every part of the kingdom, people must fear and reverence the One True God! 

Truly awesome, don’t ya think?!

Go Daniel!