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Sunday, September 29, 2002 AD
Seven Hours to Spare
It's 1 a.m. and I've just finished a new song to sing for the offertory tomorrow. It's been a long time since I've written something based on the scriptures that are to be used during the service. Jeremiah 2:1-13 is the sermon text and Revelation 2:1-7 is the additional text. Cheery stuff to be writing songs about!

Since I need to run through it a couple more times to make sure I know it, I might as well do that with a mike. So click here to listen (quality very fuzzy because I needed to keep the file size down...and it's still almost 10MB! managed to get it down to 463KB!) and follow the words below.

O heavens, stand amazed at what’s been done
At a people who trade glory for gods of wood and stone
At a bride who leaves her lover, a bride who leaves her lover
A bride who leaves the lover she once loved alone

Repent and do the things you did at first
Forsake your broken cisterns that can never quench your thirst
Return to your first love, return to your first love
Return to your first love who loved you first.

Oh, how could you betray the Lord
You followed through the wilderness,
Who led you out of slavery,
Who pitied you in your distress?
To God alone is worship due,
But you have worshipped worthlessness
And yet He calls you to return
That He might heal and He might bless.

Repent and do the things you did at first
Forsake your broken cisterns that can never quench your thirst
Return to your first love, return to your first love
Return to your first love who loved you first.

O Heavens, stand amazed at what’s been done!
At the God who leaves His glory to redeem His chosen ones!
Who arrays His bride in beauty, who arrays His bride in beauty
Who arrays His bride in beauty and makes paradise her home!

Comments and constructive criticism are very welcome. Now I'd better get to bed so maybe I have a voice in the morning to sing this!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/29/2002 01:33:00 AM • Permalink
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Friday, September 27, 2002 AD
It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
(OK, so it was just the somewhat-better-than-average times and the somewhat-worse-than-average times, but that just doesn't scan, now does it?)

Today is the last day for my laid-off co-workers, which is a sad thing. I've done three résumés for folks in my department, and have requests for a couple more from elsewhere. We all went to the IMAX Space Station 3D film for our "Last Hurrah" on Monday and had our picture taken before our team disbanded.

[Image removed. Sorry.]

But on a happier theme, a very big moving truck pulled up in front of my next-door neighbor's house this morning. Buh-bye! These are folks who think of my back yard as their own personal ash tray. I shall not miss them. On an awkward note, a couple months ago I was explaining to another neighbor, also a close family friend, my jubilation at seeing the for sale sign go up next door. "Well, it could be worse. You could get...." I knew the pause was meant to be filled with, "blacks." The best I could do (since I can't come out guns blazing against a lady who changed my diapers) was deflect, and pretend I didn't catch her meaning. "Oh, yeah, I know it could be much worse. But I can put up with a lot as long as somebody doesn't use my yard as a garbage can." I don't know a lot of my neighbors. I know the names of the folks on either side of me, and a few others who have been around all my life, but that's about it. What I do know is that white neighbors are just as likely to be troublesome as black, brown, purple or green ones. It wasn't black neighbors who have thrown cigarette butts in my back yard for years. It wasn't (at least I assume it wasn't) black neighbors who slashed the tires on the car of the first African American to move on our block several years ago. It isn't black neighbors who have the house with the most raggedy garden and pitiful flaky paint on the woodwork around the windows (that guilty party would be, ahem, me). When I overheard two kids arguing about whether I was nice or mean, it wasn't the black kid that took the "mean" side (I let the kids cut through my yard, but I scold them about shutting the gate). Racism is so irrational!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/27/2002 01:24:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, September 26, 2002 AD
Re Praise Choruses
Do the Charismatics have a better grasp on the use of praise choruses than the Reformed? Mr. Reeves has some interesting thoughts.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/26/2002 07:33:00 AM • Permalink
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I Gotta Stop Taking Bloggers at Their Word
What a blogger might say: "I'm going to give up this blogging business. It's sucking up too much of my time."
What he really means: "I'm going to keep on blogging pretty much the way I always have been, so don't delete me from your blog roll."

Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/26/2002 07:29:00 AM • Permalink
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Saturday, September 21, 2002 AD
A Limerick I'd Forgotten Having Written
(Slightly tweaked for better scanning.)

When considering "Best Preacher" honorifics
Most would quite agree that St. Paul is terrific.
But one guy makes a fuss:
"'Tisn't so!" cries Eutychus,
"For his sermons are a lethal soporific!"
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/21/2002 10:11:00 AM • Permalink
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Thursday, September 19, 2002 AD
I hab a code add I soud lige a frog. I do so miss beig able to breade! Habbily, id's tibe for adodder dose of Dyquil. Ded maybe I cad sleeb agaid.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/19/2002 01:35:00 AM • Permalink
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Monday, September 16, 2002 AD
She's Got Me Pegged!
I just received the following e-mail from a friend. It's out of context, but still worth posting, I think!

"Valerie, you're a mess. A sweet, wonderful, reformed mess. Arlette"

On second thought, I might argue with the sweet, wonderful part.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/16/2002 05:35:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, September 15, 2002 AD
There Goes the Neighborhood, Part 2
I found out tonight that there have been three muggings near my church in broad daylight in the last couple weeks. All three victims were women, and the motive in each case was clearly robbery. Our school's brand new second grade teacher had her purse stolen when she came in to work on a weekend afternoon. Oops...welcome to the neighborhood! A nun at the Catholic church down the street was wearing a hip-pack and wouldn't give it to the mugger. Not wise, perhaps, but feisty! And I can't remember who the third one was. When I think of how much time I've spent alone down there in the past few months, it makes me just a tad nervous. My car was already broken into three times this year while parked at the church. I'd really rather not have to deal with having my person attacked, too!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/15/2002 11:55:00 PM • Permalink
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There Goes the Neighborhood
I mean, it goes in a very good way, of course! Paulo finally made it to my church this morning.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/15/2002 10:31:00 AM • Permalink
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Saturday, September 14, 2002 AD
My Two Sensus Plenior Wishes
Wish the Lesser: SP now includes the blog name in the e-mail notification of new comments. I wish it would also include some identification of the post. Some comments are vague enough that it's difficult to discern what they are responding to, so one sometimes has to click through the comments on several posts before that "Oh! Of course!" moment strikes.

Wish the Greater: SP stops noting the number of comments associated with a post after a certain number (how many?) more posts have been made. The comments are still there, but there's no indication of it. Prolific bloggers such as Rick, sometimes have posts just a few days old, that have actively ongoing conversations in the comments, but no indication that there are any comments at all. And of course if one is poking around in various archives, one does not know without clicking whether or not a post received any comments at all. I wish SP kept the number of comments visible ad infinitum.

But Sensus Plenior is still The Best Blog Comment System in the World!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/14/2002 10:36:00 AM • Permalink
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The Incredible Disappearing Archives
Blogger seems to have lost my August archives, though they are still on the server. Sigh...and it was such a good month!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/14/2002 10:18:00 AM • Permalink
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Friday, September 13, 2002 AD
And the Toll Rises
Two more in our department (part-time, off-site folks) and a total of 14 agencywide -- about 20 percent of the staff (50 percent of our department). It's been a rough day around here. I'm not surprised by most of it. The loss that hurts me the most is our administrative assistant. A more competent and reliable colleague I have never encountered. I don't know what I'll do without her.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/13/2002 03:40:00 PM • Permalink
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The Show Must Go On
(Sung "Moulin Rouge" fashion -- very grim.)

The axe has fallen on our department. I am spared, but three others are going, which is much more sad. And the department itself is being dismantled. I suspect those of us who are left will be reorganized under the president's office; we'll find out for sure this afternoon. Those of us who are left won't be spared forever. With war looming on the horizon, refugee resettlement numbers are not going to pick up, and without refugee resettlement income, we just won't have enough money to continue the other stuff we do on the same scale.

Anybody wanna hire a fair-to-middlin' graphic designer/webmaster/writer/editor?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/13/2002 12:09:00 PM • Permalink
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Wednesday, September 11, 2002 AD
Where Were You When...?
I was sitting right where I am now on the morning of last September 11. I found out on a forum I was moderating at the time (warning: lots of pop-ups at that link).
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/11/2002 12:23:00 AM • Permalink
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Tuesday, September 10, 2002 AD
No, Rick, You're Not on Crack
Several people have puzzled over my e-mail address (ebyrch@....) when they find out what my last name is. Here's the scoop: long, long ago (OK, so maybe about three or four years ago), in a galaxy far, far away (OK, so it was in Halethorpe, Md.), when I first entered the cyberrealm, I was shy about using my real name in public. I therefore adopted a pseudonym -- Elizabeth Byrch. Everyone knew it was a pseudonym, and eventually I came clean with my real name, but I still use that Hotmail account. Since I try to be careful not to post my real last name in public places, this causes some confusion. Which reminds me, that if I'm going to link to my Amazon wish list, I need to figure out how to avoid having folks see my last name.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/10/2002 09:47:00 PM • Permalink
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What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
Well, Rick liked his blog design and Rachel didn't care for hers, which is fine, but I'd hate to see those bunny slippers go to waste, so if anybody else wants 'em, let me know! And three other people have already asked me for designs. I think I'm going to follow in Emeth's footsteps and link to my Amazon wish list so grateful bloggers can buy me presents when I do designs for them. No specific rates -- just sort of a whatever-you-think-it's-worth-and-can-afford-and-if-it-ain't-nuthin'-that's-OK, "love offering" sort of thing. Of course then my services get to be of the no guarantee, whenever-the-muse-strikes-and-whenever-I-get-around-to-it-so-don't-hold-your-breath variety. If anyone else would like me to throw something together for you, send me a "starter image" -- a photo or other image that you'd like me to use to build the rest of the design around. I can work pretty quickly from something like that. I won't do anything too fancy with coding or layout -- I like the artsy side of things rather than the techie side.

Of course this means I'm going to have to actually put some stuff on my wish list and link to it. At this point I'm thinking movies and music. I can usually come up with a list of movies a mile long, but finding music I like is a little more difficult. Therefore I am soliciting recommendations. I prefer vocal music, of the sing-alongable variety. I just added some Gershwin CDs to my wish list, for instance. I'd love recommendations for good vocal hymn recordings. I like folk, but never know who's good. I don't need to be listening to tons of romantic songs, so please don't suggest an album full of "Oh, baby, I love you" numbers. Any ideas?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/10/2002 09:37:00 PM • Permalink
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Anybody Know?
What happened to Kentucky Clay Rambler?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/10/2002 09:13:00 PM • Permalink
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Using My Powers for Good (for a Change!)
I was up half the night playing with blog designs for Rick and Rachel.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/10/2002 07:33:00 AM • Permalink
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Monday, September 09, 2002 AD
Roots That Just Don't Work Anymore
Why do we still use cc? It means carbon copy. When's the last time you saw a carbon copy other than in an antiquated credit card receipt?

I just came across another such term that's outlived its literal meaning -- J-card. A J-card is the label that slips inside an audio cassette case. It is folded in a J-shape so the largest part is at the front of the case, and a smaller part shows on the back. I am making some CD case inserts, and sure enough, the stock I'm using calls these inserts J-cards. There is absolutely nothing J-shaped about a 4¾" square piece of paper. And the card that goes in the back of the case, which is U-shaped (at least a little closer to J-shaped), is called a tray-card.

One of my favorite etymologies is that of the word penguin. It combines pen, meaning head, and guin, meaning white. (As an aside, Pendragon and Guinnevere come from the same roots. Who'd have thought flightless Antarctic birds would have any connection to Arthurian legend?) But penguins are generally black-headed! There evidently used to be a now-extinct white-headed Atlantic seabird aptly named "penguin" by sailors from the British Isles. The name probably spread to sailors of other tongues who weren't students of etymology. So the years passed, and the original penguin bird passed, but the name survived, attaching itself to the dissimilarly pated penguins we all know and love today.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/09/2002 07:06:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, September 08, 2002 AD
I Love the Sovereignty of God
I heard it glossed over today -- implicitly, if not explicitly denied -- and was shaken. To reassure myself, I looked up this sermon by John Piper. It mentions a "sovereign bullet" that killed a missionary wife and her baby last year. That's the term the grieving husband and father used, BTW.

And I recall a sermon from one of my pastors a couple years ago. A friend of his, also a pastor, had already lost one child to a drowning accident several years ago, and now was dealing with another child's life-threatening cancer. "If I did not believe in the sovereignty of God," he told my pastor, "I would go mad."

Of course belief in God's sovereignty has the effect of keeping us from going mad only if it is coupled with a belief in His goodness. If He were sovereign but not good, then we would have no escape from madness, for that would be His very intention. But we believe in the inevitability of resurrection for those who are in God's crucified Son, and that keeps us sane amidst the madness of those who have no such hope.

Steve Saint, whose missionary father was martyred in 1956, speaking at the memorial service for that mother and baby, described the difference between those who believe and those who don't: "For them, the pain is fundamental and the joy is superficial because it won't last. For us, the pain is superficial and the joy is fundamental."

I believe that. If I didn't, I'd have killed myself a long time ago. I love the sovereignty of God in part because it keeps me alive. And I can pray, "We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life," in spite of the old scars and fresher wounds that have on occasion tempted me to despair of life. God has a good and loving purpose in the abandonment, neglect and abuse of my childhood; in the lonely barrenness of my adulthood; and even in the sometimes seemingly imperceptible progress of my sanctification. Of course He bears no culpability for any of it, but He is the first cause none the less, and I am glad of it. If He weren't sovereign over all things, including these things, He would be sovereign over nothing. And if He were sovereign over nothing, there'd be no reason to overcome past hurts, endure present pains, and strive to live a life pleasing unto Him.

Those who attempt to give comfort by denying God's sovereign involvement in the cause of grief offer no comfort at all, only meaninglessness.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/08/2002 08:45:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, September 07, 2002 AD
Wayne's World
Emeth and I have been so generous to Wayne. First she ever so kindly redid his template in shades of pink, but he wasn't very appreciative, and then I redecorated but he was still ungrateful. Sigh...some people are just hard to please!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/07/2002 11:01:00 PM • Permalink
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Friday, September 06, 2002 AD
PentaMom's Pastor's Plethora of Pledges
In a comment on an earlier entry, Jane, a.k.a. PentaMom, mentioned that in her congregation, Faith Reformed Church of Erie, Pa., the reception of new members includes a number of vows in addition to the five basic PCA vows. PentaJane has kindly shared these with me, and I now pass them on to you, gentle reader.

  • I acknowledge and receive this brother and sister as fellow members of Christ’s Church, and I will pledge to them my duty and love as their (brother/sister) in Christ.

  • I will be devoted to them in love, honor them above myself, being kind and tender, forgiving and forbearing.

  • I will seek to encourage and admonish them, to pray for them as I have opportunity, to teach and exhort them to live a holy life.

  • I will be faithful to practice hospitality ungrudgingly, bear their burdens, and serve them, even to supply material need if I am able.

  • I will imitate Christ before them and put away falsehood, grudges, anger, dishonesty, evil talk, bitterness, slander and impurity since we are members now of the same body.

  • I will seek to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and I will accept them as Christ has accepted me in order to bring praise to God.
New Member:
  • Will you also pledge your duty and love to your brothers and sisters in Christ by being faithful to support the Body using the gifts, talents and resources entrusted to you?
Jane adds, "FWIW, the pastor keeps three versions of this on file, depending on whether we're receiving a man, woman, or both, so we don't get all confused on the brother/sister thing. And he gets the pronouns right."
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/06/2002 12:33:00 AM • Permalink
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Tuesday, September 03, 2002 AD
Third Millennium Ministries has finally moved their forums to EZBoards. Not that some of us have begged, or anything....
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/03/2002 10:12:00 PM • Permalink
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Blogger Meeting
As Brian already reported, he, Wayne, Paulo and I met for dinner this evening. The guys were exactly as they seem online -- no surprises. (Of course I'd already met Brian once.) What a great conversation we had! There's nobody in my regular, offline world with whom I can carry on such animated discussions about anything touching theology. Especially not anybody I can generally agree with! It's great when my online and offline lives can converge. We (except for Brian, who just wanted to get home and beat us all to blogging about the meeting) went to Greenleaf Christian Books and made fun of all the Left Behind stuff. I showed them the chair where I sat the night I read an entire novel there. And I showed them the novel, too.

I think I can sefely say that an excellent time was had by all!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/03/2002 10:11:00 PM • Permalink
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Another Duh!
It just occurred to me that I need to update my Blog list because Wendy R isn't Wendy R anymore, but Wendy W!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/03/2002 08:57:00 AM • Permalink
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I Found Us an Author!
Seems Tim Gallant is a step ahead of me on this church membership thing. Think we could twist his arm to get him to write a longer treatment?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/03/2002 08:45:00 AM • Permalink
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Do Jalapeños...
...cause jalatosis?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/03/2002 07:27:00 AM • Permalink
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Monday, September 02, 2002 AD
Here are a couple major categories I meant to include in my "Somebody Oughta Write a Book" post:
  • Conflict! From minor disagreements to major differences, how should conflict be addressed? What's the role of the rank and file members? Of the elders? How does it differ if the conflict is with another member with an elder (or elders)?

  • The nature of the commitment (and this might go under my previous "coming and going" category): I've encountered very conservative people who wouldn't dream of counseling a wife to leave her husband under any but the most extreme of circumstances, yet seem very free about encouraging people to go in search of greener ecclesiatical pastures. Similarly, people who would be very strict about the nature of a wife's submission to her husband are sometimes quick to incite discontentment, if not outright rebellion against elders. In fact, I think this is a major pitfall of all online theological discussion, perhaps even any theological discussion and learning outside the church. I struggle with it myself -- I read something, online or in print, and think "Aha! That's the way it should be!" and realize it's the exact opposite way at my church. So I get cranky and discontent with my church and my elders. Which leads us back to my point above about conflict. So what does a member's commitment to a local body entail? What should it entail? It obviously needn't be "'til death us do part," because people move sometimes, but ought there be an expectation that membership is somewhat more permanent than a chalk painting on the sidewalk?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/02/2002 01:39:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, September 01, 2002 AD
Rain, Rain, Rain!
Thank You, thank You, thank You!

O GOD, our heavenly Father, by whose gracious Providence the former and the latter rain descend upon the earth, that it may bring forth fruit for the use of man; We give thee humble thanks that it hath pleased thee to send us rain, to the great comfort of us thy unworthy servants, and to the glory of thy holy Name; through thy mercies in Jesus Christ our LORD. Amen.

(More please, more please, more please!)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/01/2002 10:35:00 PM • Permalink
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