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This evening,  for the first time ever, all 9 JamFam members went on a bike ride together. You may be wondering about 6 Month Old Foster. We strapped him into the carseat, and then strapped that into the Bike trailer and then put that behind the bike ‘chaser’, which his youngest brother rode on, and put that behind my bike.  Foster did great.

Every new experience we put him in, I imagine him thinking “I don’t pretend to have a clue about anything that happens to me. I’m just along for the ride”.   In this case it was literal.

On the way back, we stopped by good neighbor friends of ours (The A’s) and it happened to be Mr. A’s birthday, so they invited us in for dessert. Very nice.

So a very pleasant end of the weekend for us.

Picnics so far: 25 — Picnics at this time last year: 18 — Picnics required to beat last year’s record:82

Everything I Ever Need To Know I Learned From The Hobbit – Part 3 of 3

Never laugh at live dragons. *** Where there’s life, there’s hope. *** Third time pays for all. *** When the heart of a dwarf, even the most respectable, is wakened by gold and by jewels he grows suddenly bold, and he may become fierce. *** Up the bowman and down with moneybags! *** It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. *** Elves are light-footed. *** Cram is much better than nothing. *** The wealthy may have pity beyond right on the needy that befriended them when they were in want. *** Dwarves are sometimes lighter in word than in deed. *** Dwarves are exceedingly strong for their height. *** Goblins are the foes of all and at their coming all other quarrels are forgotten. *** I have heard songs of many battles and I have always understood that defeat may be glorious. It seems very uncomfortable not to say distressing. *** We will honor the agreement of the dead. ***  Merry be the greenwood, while the world is yet young. *** Even a burglar has his feelings. *** May your shadow never grow less. *** So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending. *** Sword shall be rusted and throne and crown perish with strength that men trusted and wealth that they cherish, here grass is still growing and leaves are yet swinging. *** A little sleep does a great cure. *** Merry is may-time! *** Share and share alike. *** Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? *** You are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all.

And in case you’re interested – here’s Part 1 and Part 2

On an earlier post, which had some truly wacky comments, a Free-willer suggested that all Calvinists are going to Hell. This got me thinking:

How theologically wrong can a person be and still be saved?

Example: Does disbelief in the Holy Spirit disqualify you from heaven?

What if a person has made Christ your savior in a real and personal way, but believes that there are people who are good enough to get to heaven on their own merit?

What if another person has repented and believed in Jesus, but doesn’t think he is God?

What if a person doesn’t think that Jesus rose from the dead, or that he wasn’t sinless? Or that the Bible is not inspired by God?

Would any of these people go to heaven? Could all of them?

I have my own thoughts on this matter, but I’m interested to hear what others have to say.

 . . . i.e., someone who doesn’t like picnics.

Or should I say it this way:



Over at All Or Nothing At All, Heidi ends a long paragraph post with this statement:

“I’ll be the stick in the mud and I’ll admit I don’t like eating outside. Next time a picnic rolls around I’ll send some brownies and a note saying I have swine flu.”

Someone on the internet is saying bad stuff about one of my family’s favorite pastimes. Something must be done.

Some comments:

1. First, it looks like what’s she’s describing (or at least the part she’s not crazy about) is not so much a picnic but a potluck. And while I believe that a potluck can be enjoyable, in the right circumstances and when handled correctly, I can understand while someone with acute culinary tastes could find them less than satisfying. But don’t blame this on it’s outdoorsiness.

My advice for next time, take less. Choose your favorites.

2. It sounds like she had seating issues. I recommend that she find, purchase and then bring to the next event a lawn chair that she finds comfortable. And some of them are both cheap and quite pleasant to sit in.

3. It also sound like she really needs to read my Picnic tips.

4. To sum up, while the choice of food is important, it’s not the most important. It’s the fact that you are outside. Look at the trees. Listen to the birds. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Thank God for it all. And then take another bite of your burger that isn’t done just right and see if you don’t like it a little more.

Honestly, I think Heidi has her heart in the right place. She just needs to look at it a different way.

Okay, that sounded a little patronizing. Um, how about this?

Give Picnics Another Chance!

There are two kinds of people: those who say, ‘There are two kinds of people: those who say, “There are two kinds of people: those who say,”‘ There are two kinds of people: those who say,”” There are two kinds of people”” and those who don’t’’’, and those who don’t’’, and those who don’t’, and those who don’t.

I’m of the former.

By the numbers –

Homes graciously willing to host the JamFam: 2

We felt loved by Debbie’s side of the family and then my side of the family. We are grateful

States stayed in: 2
Attempts required to see the baby foxes on the bike trail: 2
Geocaches found: 2
Excellent Memorial day picnics: 2 (BBQ (Sunday) and Fried chicken (Monday))

Picnics: 4

Debbie and I weren’t sure what to do for supper this evening, and we were debating going on the forth picnic. I never want to force this on our kids, so I asked them what they wanted to do. I was pleased that they all wanted to go on another picnic. And it turned out very nice.
Total picnics so far this year: 22
Total Picnic at this time last year: 17
Total picnics required to beat last year’s record: 82

Chapters read out of Children’s Pilgrim’s Progress to our kids before bedtime tonight: 2

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From The Hobbit

(Part 2 of 3)

May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks. *** Don’t be a fool if you can help it. *** It is some good being a wizard. *** Don’t stray off the track. *** Don’t leave the path! *** You cannot quench a terrible thirst by standing under giant oaks and waiting for a chance drip to fall on your tongue. *** Don’t tell us about dreams – dream dinners aren’t any good and we can’t share them. *** It is horrible being all alone. *** No spider ever like being called Attercop and Tomnoddy of course is insulting to anybody. *** Long noses are sometimes useful. *** There is nothing in the feeling of weight in an idle toss-pot’s arms. *** There is no knowing what a dwarf will not dare and do for revenge or the recovery of his own. *** May your beard grow ever longer. *** Third time pays for all. *** There it is: Dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people if you don’t expect too much. *** It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. *** Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after long possession. *** Every worm has his weak spot. *** Lucky numbers don’t always come off. *** Don’t let your imagination run away with you!

And in case you’re interested – here’s Part 1 and Part 3

Found here.

It’s funny. I generally agree with it. It glorifies God. And it encourages Evangelical Christians to be humble.

If you’re going to look at it – here’s a good start with this one:
Throwing out disclaimers before you recommend something secular.

He forgot one item in his (very helpful) Christian Secular Culture Disclaimer Checklist:

#8. Name the things in the movie or song that redeem it.

I find this to be required.

. . . a review, sort of.

In June of 2005, well before I had a blog, I wrote, and Vox posted the “Three reasons why Vox should see Star Wars Episode 3.” 

Now I have this to say (warning – some of the links have spoilers):

11 Reasons Why Vox Should Go See Star Trek 11*

1. His reason for not liking Star Trek – Next Generation is, well let’s face it, it’s lame. Something like “I watched one episode of it and it was a ton like this other science fiction book I read once, so I said “No way!” and I never watched any other Star Trek again.”

Isn’t that like reading one chapter of, say, a book against Atheism and critiquing it on only that?

As for his given reason for not liking Trek as a whole (the “smug incoherence of a saga about a warship charged with peacefully enforcing the supremacy of its “tolerant” culture at laser point”) Well, I can only assume he got that from other people. Vox, can you ask them to show us an episode where this actually happens?  

In any case, I thought Vox didn’t care about the background message in fiction?

I suspect Vox “doesn’t fully understand that a writer’s basic objective in writing a television show seldom involves the idea of presenting an argument to the viewer”

2. The Friday Challenger liked it.

3. And Roger Ebert didn’t. (Its kind of interesting to spot all of the misconceptions that he has about a movie that he watched with his own eyes.)

4. It’s a lot like Star Wars Ep 4, which Vox liked.

5. Absolutely no Keynesian Economics espoused.

6. Lots of punching.

7. Since this one restarts the canon (and there is a possibility that much that happened in the old timeline won’t from now on) maybe now would be a good time to start paying attention.

8. Popular Mechanics says the physics are half way decent.

9. Vox admits liking TOS as a kid. My wife, too. (Me, not so much).

She was greatly entertained, while watching this movie, at seeing how the new actors were successful at taking the mannerisms of the original actors. It’s really rather clever in showing how the characters meet and become friends.

10. Speaking of which, knowing that Vox liked the LOTR movies, I should point out that this one has Eomer.   I enjoyed every scene with Bones in it.

11. I’m like Vox in that I don’t see many movies in the theatre. Babysitting costs us $40+. Still, I’m tempted to see this one in the theatre again. It is an excellent movie. Good action, good humor. Men making sacrifices are honored. I recommend it.


Back in ’05, Vox found my documentation ‘compelling’ and himself ‘wavering’, but nevertheless (as far as I know) never saw Ep 3. Perhaps this time I’ll be more successful.

What say you, Vox?

* One of the things I promised Vox when I first started this blog is that I would stand up for Star Trek. It’s high time I lived up to it.

One should never feel ashamed about honest joy or honest tears.

“What Does The Bible Say About That?”
By Carolyn Larsen

Summary: For Kids Ages 8-12. This book addresses 340 topics and gives a Biblical perspective on each of them. Each topic is one page, and has four sections: 

1. “What does the Bible say about . . . ?” – A quick intro.
2. “What the Bible Says” – Biblical passages on the topic
3. “Time to face the facts” – A summary of what the Bible says
4. “Today I will” – A suggested response for the reader.

My Thoughts:

I’m torn on this book.

On the plus side, I really think it is a good idea to stress to children that (A) the Bible should be trusted, (B) the Bible is a place we should go when we have questions and need guidance, and (C) the Bible has things to say about choices you are making every day.

I also appreciate the fact that every page has two or three passages of Scripture on it.

And 340 is a lot of topics. The author put a lot of thought into it.

But on the negative side. . .

A) There are topics here that I’m not sure a child needs to read about (especially if they are being homeschooled). The very first page is ‘Abandonment’ and discusses the biblical response if a parent leaves the family. I don’t think that I am sheltering my children too much to not want them to have to worry about this happening.

Other topics like this are “Sex”, “boys”, “witchcraft”,and ”the occult”. It must be stated, however, that these topics are handled in a fairly high level way, and the author has pretty reasonable things to say about them. But I wished she’d left them out.

B) It seems like some of the verses are taken out of context. For example, under ‘Hygiene’ the author goes to Matthew 7 – “So every healthy tree bears good fruit but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”

While there is a wide range of ways this could be interpreted, I don’t think Jesus would think “You should take more showers” is one of them.

And under telephone, it uses John 15:12 – This is my commandment, that you love one another, that your joy may be filled and then goes on to say “Telephones are great for staying in touch with others, and that is certainly something that God wants you to do. However when you’re staying in touch with some people but ignoring the person who is right beside you, that isn’t a good thing.”

Now that’s pretty good common sense, but it doesn’t come from John 15:12.

C) My opinion is that the drawings/cartoons are a little distracting and sometimes a slightly annoying and some times the topics are treated too lightly.

But (back on the plus side) – our eleven year old thought it interesting enough to spend significant time reading. And many of the discussions on the more basic topics (those where the Bible speaks directly about them) are right on. For example, this is true with the topics (Deceit, Decisions, Descipleship, Disease and Doubt just to name those from the D’s) I think we might consider this book to be a very helpful resource if the author had simply left out some of the topics. But as it stands, we would want to be a little careful with it.

My wife and I wrote this review for the review writing program here:

Foster is 6 months old today.  Woo hoo!

We rented and watched “Slumdog Millionaire” A pretty good movie, where evil is shown to be evil and loyalty is honored. But it is quite dark in places and has some scenes I’d rather not have seen.

We started it last Sunday and didn’t finish it until last night.  We don’t have a lot of freetime.

JamFam Picnic Update:  Picnics so far – 16 ***  Picnics last year at this time – 14 ***  Picnics required to beat last year’s record – 82

. . . just finished reading it to my kids . . .


Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From The Hobbit, By JRR Tolkien

Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good Morning! But please come to tea – any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good bye! *** Dwarves can make a fire almost anywhere out of almost anything, wind or no wind. *** The less inquisitive you are as you go along, the less trouble you are likely to find. *** It is always very worth while to pick a troll’s pocket. *** Trolls are slow on the uptake and mighty suspicious about anything new to them. *** Don’t interrupt. *** Don’t dip your beard to far in the foam, it is long enough without watering it. *** Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale and a take a deal of telling anyway. *** Even the plans of wise wizards and good friends go astray. *** Caves up in the mountains are seldom unoccupied. *** That is the danger part about caves: you don’t know how far they go back, sometimes, or where a passage behind may lead to, or what is waiting for you inside. *** Goblins eat horses and ponies and donkeys (and other much more dreadful things) and they are always hungry. *** Goblins don’t care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves. *** The riddle game is sacred and of immense antiquity and even wicked creatures are afraid to cheat when they play at it. *** A promise is a promise. *** Being made into supper is much worse than having none yourself. *** Trees are not very comfortable to sit in for long at any time; but in the cold and the wind, with wolves all round below waiting for you, they can be perfectly miserable places. *** Eagles aren’t forks! *** You ought not to be rude to an eagle, when you are only the size of a hobbit, and are up in his eyrie at night.

And in case you’re interested – here’s Part 2 and Part 3

For another Friday Writing Challenge.

This one is all true.


5 Year

Jamsco considers himself to be a fairly social creature, but there are a few things he requires: The ability to hear what the other people are saying and some type of conversation starter. Finding neither of these prevalent an hour and a half into his 5 year high school reunion, Jamsco decided he needed a breather.

So he went out onto the deck, which was empty and thought for a few moments. He looked at the nearby U of M buildings. It was peaceful. He debated going back in. Was there anyone in there he wanted to talk to?

But then his musings were brought to a halt by two or three of his former classmates coming out onto the deck for their smoke break. Jamsco decided it would look cowardly to take off at that point, so he smiled, greeted them and then just listened.

He listened long enough to hear Johnny FourSyllableLastName brag on the fact that no one realized at the time that he (a football player) was significantly high at their senior year homecoming game. Jamsco wondered if not getting caught that night was the biggest achievement of Johnny FSLN’s life. But perhaps Jamsco was being judgmental.

He soon went back inside.

There he headed towards the open bar. Yes, the open bar which provided free drinks and which, he estimated, had caused the night’s cost to be an extra ten dollars per person. At least he was going to get some free cokes out of the deal.

There he ran into Jerry, who was, of all the people here, the person who he knew best, since Jerry and Jamsco and had also gone to college together. Jerry was talking to James, a mostly unknown person to Jamsco, but everyone knew Jerry. Jerry had been the Senior Class President.

Jamsco had had a fairly adversarial relationship with Jerry since about the middle of college, partly due to Jerry’s affinity for telling bold face lies.

Since they were at the bar, conversation turned to drinking, and how the consumption of alcohol was forbidden for students at Jerry and Jamsco’s college. “But” stated Jerry, with a slight smile, and a wink at James (though he was speaking to Jamsco), “I heard you were quite the wild man.”

Jamsco was aware that Jerry had stated this to provoke Jamsco. It was quite false – Jamsco had not been (nor has he yet) what anyone in their right mind would describe as wild. Neither was it likely that there were any rumors to this effect. But Jamsco just smiled and let the comment pass. “There are times when it is important to defend one’s self,” he reasoned, “And this is not one of them.”

Soon the dance started and since dancing requires some amount of wildness, Jamsco did not partake. And it was not soon enough after that that he was going out with a couple friends.

And after that night it was almost one month to the day that Jerry murdered two men, one of them a state senator. But it took five months for the police to determine that it was him and take him in.

And it was five years later that Jamsco got a long letter from Jerry in prison, and their friendship was renewed. Jailtime has had some positive effects on Jerry.

Jamsco’s twenty year high school reunion was more pleasant. He brought his cute wife and enjoyed the astonished look on his former classmate’s faces when he told them about his family.

“You have . . . SIX . . . kids?”

(Idea from Abraham)

1. Killer bees are becoming more able to withstand cold – they’re moving north and they will be in Minnesota by 1977.

2. “Doy” is French for “I know”

3. I am as good at sports as anyone.

4. People stop sinning when they become adults.

5. And like has my pastor ever sinned?

6. Christ is born every December and dies every spring.

7. With the right combination of feathers, an umbrella and balloons, a person could fly.

8. It’s a wise thing to try to get your friend to understand that there is no real Santa.

9. A plane carrying you to Japan from Minnesota would fly east.

10. It’s not right that my younger brother’s name comes before mine in the alphabet. Just barely!

11. If everything were considered correctly and justly, I would be judged the best human being on earth.

*** Slightly Disturbing Content Warning***

I spent the day yesterday in the hospital with my Mom, whose left hand met a lawn mower blade in a violent way.  She is left handed. Significant damage was done to her three middle fingers and she will be recovering for weeks. I fear that this will entail significant pain as the healing progresses.

Please pray for her.

Here is one answer to prayer already. She is a pianist (she actually was scheduled to play today) and we told the surgeon this. When he came to talk to us after the surgery, he said fairly confidently that she will play the piano again.

I was going through some file and I found something I typed up from my Men’s Retreat notes (from the fall of 2007 – yes, a year and a half ago). I thought it good enough to report here.

12 Funny Quotes From Greg Harris’s Teachings At Bethlehem’s Men’s Retreat

1. There’s a detail that’s overlooked by the hippies: We’re not birds. – regarding “Consider the birds of the air”

2. If you miss the springboard, you still end up in the water.

3. If you were a toaster, it would feel good to make toast.

4. Whoah! I feel a miracle comin’ on! – What a tele-evangelist would say in the Elijah/widow story

5. You always see the scene “Bring some hot water!”

6 . . And then the string is going ‘You’ve got children.’ – regarding what is keeping the Kite from flying away and what keeps the kite up.

7. Many wives feel like the bruised shins of a blind man.

8. . . . Now Joshua writes a book – with a bad title! – and it sells a million copies.

9. Nobody watches the launching pad after the rocket goes off.

10. You get to clear your throat a lot in Hebrew.

11. Some of you are thinking – where’s the action? Does anything get blown up? Well, there’s a crime scene. And there is a fire! – regarding the movie – ‘Avalon’

12. For lightbulbs, that would be the epitome of light-making – to be in the dining room.

Or if you like, my original Friday Everything Format

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Greg Harris

 There’s a detail that’s overlooked by the hippies: We’re not birds. *** If you miss the springboard, you still end up in the water. *** If you were a toaster, it would feel good to make toast. *** Whoah! I feel a miracle comin’ on! *** You always see the scene “Bring some hot water!” *** . . . And then the string is going ‘You’ve got children.’ *** Many wives feel like the bruised shins of a blind man. ***  Joshua writes a book – with a bad title! – and it sells a million copies. *** Nobody watches the launching pad after the rocket goes off. *** You get to clear your throat a lot in Hebrew. *** Some of you are thinking – where’s the action? Does anything get blown up? Well, there’s a crime scene. And there is a fire! *** For lightbulbs, that would be the epitome of light-making – to be in the dining room.


Can’t make it opening night, but my wife and I will be taking this in for a date night next weekend.

I hope it’s as good as the buzz says it is.

. . . At least for those who teach there.

 I believe I’ve mentioned that on Wednesday nights I am the leader for the thirty plus Kindergarteners and First Graders. Every time we meet I try to do a little five minute bible study which gets them into the theme of the night. I try to make it approachable. I try to teach what the Bible actually says. This can be tricky. I choose my words carefully.

But there is one thing that aids me – The knowledge that at our church (along with many others) considers all of the Bible to be true.

This comforts me, because I know that no matter what passage I teach from, I can know the elders and pastor’s will not have a problem with it –at least with my choice of passage.

They might say I’m interpreting it wrong, or that it’s not appropriate for children. But I know that at no point will this scene happen –

Associate Pastor X, coming up to me in the hall: Say, Jamsco, could I speak to you for a moment?

Jamsco: Sure. <<noting the grave look on his face>>

Pastor X: I, uh, understand that you taught the first graders from the passage in 1st ____, chapter 8* last week?

Jamsco: That’s right. Uh oh. Did I say something wrong about it?

Pastor X: No, no, .. . well, not really. I mean you taught what it says. But << here in more hushed tones >> you should know that Head Pastor Y . . . . well, he doesn’t really agree with that part of the Bible.

Jamsco: He, uh, he doesn’t?

Pastor X: I’m afraid not. He – and I must say I might agree with him – feels it to be too _____.

Jamsco: I see.

It is always a sobering task to teach from the Bible, as it should be. But I am glad to not have this fear to worry about.

 * don’t look for it – I chose the number at random

There is a kind of person who rarely gets upset and when he does you know something is very wrong. Be that kind of person.

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May 2009