Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Private Confession in the LCMS: A Very Good Thing

From Old Lutheran dot com-
What is private confession? Private confession has two parts. First, we make a personal confession of sins to the pastor, and then we receive absolution, which means forgiveness as from God himself. This absolution we should not doubt, but firmly believe that thereby our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. . .

What sins should we confess? Before God we should confess that we are guilty of all sins, even those which are not known to us, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. But in private confession, as before the pastor, we should confess only those sins which trouble us in heart and mind.
A lot of people have never heard of private confession being offered in the Lutheran Church, and that's because a lot of pastors don't offer it. Some think that such an offering will bring up emotional and psychological baggage from those who left the Roman Catholic Church. But confession is a necessary part of our spiritual journey. Even if we just confess the sins we've committed one against the other, it's important that we admit our wrongs, ask for forgiveness, and receive absolution. In the Lutheran Church, moreover, it is not a requirement, but rather a suggestion.

This is something that is also outlined in Luther's Small Catechism. Take a look at it, see what it says. Here is a brief exposition of what begins on p. 24 of the 1986 publication of the Small Catechism:
What is Confession?
Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven by God in heaven. . .
My husband published the Beichtspiegel on his blog. This provides a list of questions expounding on the Ten Commandments so that we might be able to recognize some of the sins we've committed and repent of them before the pastor in private confession.

Because a lot of pastors don't offer private confession, most people in the LCMS don't know that it exists except as a Roman Catholic thing. I know I didn't until my husband and I joined our present church, and our pastor wrote in the Church calendar and in our bulletin when he would be offering private confession. (He offers it about once a month, always on a Saturday afternoon.)

We know that we are grievous sinners, all of us. But how many times do we sin against someone else or against ourselves, not pray about it, and go along our daily lives unrepentant and unforgiven for those thoughts, words and deeds? When we confess our sins and receive absolution in private confession, it gives us a chance to reflect upon our sins, talk about why they were wrong or what we can do to avoid them in the future, and receive absolution for them.

Because our pastors are called and ordained servants of the Word, we have assurance that the forgiveness our pastors give us can be accepted as if God, Himself, is speaking to us through the pastors' words. (See the bottom of p. 26 of the aforementioned Small Catechism.) God gives pastors the ability to absolve us of our sins because He speaks to us through them. Furthermore, our pastors can supply us with Scripture passages to comfort us and strengthen our faith.

This was one practice of the Roman Catholic Church that Martin Luther believed was an important part of the faith life of Christians. It was something he believed should continue. Unfortunately, as many churches in the LCMS stray toward more liberal and contemporary methods of services and ministry to congregants, these practices are left by the wayside as "too Catholic" or "too rigid" or "too personal," etc. The last of these is sealed by vows of confidentiality. As for being "too Catholic," it is a catholic (small c) practice, meant to provide comfort and strength, as well as reflection.

It may not be something you're used to or particularly like the sound of when you first hear about it, especially if you come from a Catholic background. I was a little unsure of it when my husband and I started going to private confession about two years ago, but it has since become a comfort to me. I'm sure it would be a comfort for any of you, too.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just what my husband needed to hear...

My husband and his best friend have always been able to talk about anything, especially when they have a beer glass in front of them that seems to be bottomless. So, is it any wonder that my husband would find research that makes him want to drink even more beer?

He recently posted this link on his multi-bloggered beer blog which goes to a site that suggests that a certain ingredient in the hops from which beer is produced may have certain cancer-fighting qualities. This is not going to help his beer gut.

Wintery Blast Finally Hits Kansas

Wind: NW at 34 mph
Humidity: 92%

Winter weather hasn't really hit here in Kansas until just yesterday. Before that, we were experiencing high temperatures in the 70s, short-sleeved weather! Sure, there were a few days where the highs were only in the 50s or 60s, but today, our high is supposed to be in the mid- to upper-30s with light precipitation possible.

See that wind speed? Yep. That's Kansas for you. The humidity isn't usually much higher than about 20 percent, so that combined with the wind is going to make it seem a lot colder.

Some of you might remember that in the first week of January, Mr. Swede and I had to leave our apartment for a number of days because power was knocked out to more than half the city, and we ended up staying in my parents' brand new house. Hopefully that won't happen again, but if it does, we'll be prepared. (I pray we are, anyway.)

Also, I'm preparing a new poll or two. One is going to have somewhat of a theological basis and the other more of a Christmas gift-giving basis. In the meantime, share your winter blues with me and keep yourself warm! :D

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Grocery Shopping

One of the things I sometimes enjoy doing is grocery shopping, although I always find things at the store that I want and can't afford to buy (or know I shouldn't because it's not good for me or my husband). But one thing I'm trying to do more of is use coupons when I shop. I can actually save about 1/3 on my final bill at the register by doing so, and maybe even more with practice.

My main purpose in asking about who or how many of you use coupons was because I don't usually see too many people using them, and I wanted to know how much in the minority I am.

Here is what I found out from the 11 votes I got (even though it's not really all that representative a poll):

Four votes were from those who said there is nothing wrong with using coupons to be thrifty. That's where I would most likely fall had I voted, myself.

One person said they use coupons sometimes when they're really thinking about it.

Three people each said they either shop at off-brand stores or that they're men and real men don't use coupons. (HA!)

Really. How does using coupons make you less of a man? It shows that you care about where your money goes and you don't want to waste anymore than you have to. I think that's an admirable quality.

However, if those men out there who voted are married, it's likely that they don't do the grocery shopping anyway, which would make this poll irrelevant to them. Oh well. Such is life.

I know I can't send my husband to the grocery store without him bringing home a lot of stuff that wasn't on the list to begin with. I, on the other hand, seem to have a better grasp of how to stick to a list.

Is it discipline? I don't know. My husband lived on his own for 12 years before we got married, whereas I (who am several years younger) never did. I sometimes regret that, but it wasn't really something I could help very well. We got married at a time when a lot of people were losing their jobs, and I couldn't find anyone to hire me because the economy was so depressed.

When my husband lost his job due to a lay-off, I had to learn rather quickly how to stick to a budget, try to use coupons, etc. That wasn't easy because most of my life, I never had to worry about where my next meal was going to come from, how much money I was spending on this or that... I was like a grown-up kid who had to do a lot of self-teaching and learning from my much more experienced husband.

Now, I appreciate the hard work that goes into planning a budget, making grocery lists, and finding coupons to use with those items on my list, or bypassing the coupons because I found a better deal without them.

Anyway, I'm just rambling now. It's 11:15 p.m. and I need to wind down and get some sleep. I'll be back later in the week to post something less dull. I promise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"The Ice Harvest": A Bone to Pick

Today, a new movie called "The Ice Harvest" is supposed to open in theatres. The long and short of the movie, from the synopsis given on this site to the review given on the radio, is that a mob boss has settled in Wichita after a heist in Kansas City, where he is from.

Here is what you need to know before watching this movie, if you choose to go at all: NO part of this movie was filmed anywhere near Kansas, let alone Wichita. It was filmed in Illinois, near or in Chicago. Also, there are no mobs in Kansas. None in Kansas City, none in Wichita, the state's largest city. (KC is only bigger than Wichita on the Missouri side.) I should know: I've lived my entire life in Kansas, most exclusively in Wichita, and the only gang-like activity is just that, not mob-like, and there certainly aren't any mobs anywhere near here.

Apparently, this movie is very unflattering in its view and portrayal of Wichita. This is the last kind of coverage our fair state needs. We just sent accused BTK serial killer Dennis Rader sent to the "big house" and had a made-for-TV movie show recently on television, Kansas schools are trying to play down the proponents of evolution in favor of making sure children know that it's only a theory and that a higher being must have created us and the universe (which, for some reason is making Kansans look like a bunch of hick nuts – supposedly the position of a "Kansas science teacher" is rated as one of the nation's worst possible jobs), and "In Cold Blood," a movie based on the slaying of the Clutter family that happened a couple of decades ago has been rebroadcast... From the media coverage, those who believe all this crap that has been shown on TV might wonder what kind of people really do live here!

I'm not saying that this movie won't have redeeming qualities. Some of the movie ratings are looking very positive for this film. The reviewer from this morning's radio show, though, gave this movie a rating of -1 on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the highest possible rating.

Maybe it will prove to be a good movie afterall, but please don't think that this story has anything at all to do with the real-life Wichita, Kansas. If you do see it, let me know what you think of it. Maybe eventually, my husband and I will watch it just to see what it's all about.

Monday, November 21, 2005

(Pre-)Thanksgiving Meal Tips from the Mrs.

If you're getting ready to fix that wonderful tradition of a Thanksgiving meal, complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc., you probably have your own recipe and strategy you like to follow. But if you've never fixed your own Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes, I've got tips for you that I've learned and improved on, myself.

For your benefit, I've posted my own procedure for preparing a thanksgiving meal on The Swede Smell of Lutefisk, the cooking blog I share with my husband.

If you have anything to add to my meal tips that you think would make it better, please feel free to share! I and other readers would love to see them!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Lutheran Carnival XI is Up!

To check out the posts submitted for this edition of the carnival, visit Dan at Necessary Roughness.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Meet Trixie!

Trixie is a lovable little puppy who has decided to keep you company while visiting my blog! I named her Trixie because she'll jump to get her treats. Click on the box of treats, hold the bone up above her head, and click again, and she'll jump to get it! Almost as good as the real thing. No pooping, no shedding. Hmmm... Maybe better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


My younger sister, Tonya, will be graduating from college on December 11, earning her BA in Communicative Disorders and Sciences! Wahoo!! Way to go, sis!

A Move Toward Greater Anonymity

If you've visited this blog in the past, you know my real name. You may even have the e-mail address that I share with my husband. This is very important: From now on, I ask this of all of you: If you have me listed on your blogroll by anything other than my blog's title, please change it so that my real name is not revealed. If you refer to me in any of your blog posts, please refer to me by my blog's title or Mrs. T. Swede.

Not all that long ago, TK, the author of the blog Katie's Beer, told us that she was being harassed by a "troll." There are other people I know of (Bunnie from World Magazine, for instance) who use pseudonyms to keep people from knowing their true identities and to protect themselves from being stalked or harassed in person, over the phone, etc.

I should have done this from the very beginning, as my husband should have. Fortunately, we've been blessed to not be harassed by anyone that we couldn't prevent from commenting. Code identification in the comments window stopped that. But the danger was far from over. Now, hopefully, with the concealing of my identity, I'll be completely in the clear. But this can only be truly successful with your cooperation.

I've started a new e-mail address, which I listed at the end of my blogroll. Of course, if you choose to e-mail me, you'll have to replace the words in caps with their symbolic counterparts. Anyone who wants to is welcome to e-mail me, unless your intent is to harass or threaten me. Those actions do have consequences, especially if my husband gets to you!

If you have questions or would like to leave a comment about this, feel free to do so. Also, please consider doing this on your own blogs. It's a safety issue. If you don't want to, that's your choice, and I won't fault you for it. As you can see, it's taken me over a year to do this.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

God's Good Stewards

The Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25: 14-30

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'


  1. Matthew 25:15 A talent was worth more than a thousand dollars.

Our pastor reminded us this morning that "talents" were not necessarily what we refer to as those things that we can do that others cannot. But to give an equivalent, gifts (our version of "talents") that we have been given by God are kind of what I'm going to refer to here.

We are all given gifts by God, and we often don't do with them what we ought. Some of us have gifts of caring for others, and yet we choose careers that either have nothing to do with helping and caring for others, or worse yet, hurt others.

That's one of the reasons I chose to get out of newspaper work altogether (that and I pretty much have no other papers in the area to go to). I was part of a business that, rather than help people all the time, had a reputation for simply informing, entertaining or causing pain. (Not the particular company, but the newspaper business as a whole.) I'm someone who likes to help people, and I didn't feel that I was using the gifts that God had given me as I should.

Although I'm looking for work again and trying to find something that I can use my degree with, I do plan on continuing toward my certification as an interpreter, and want to use that certification for church work. This is a gift that God has given me that I can't ignore and do nothing with anymore. I have finally realized that I was selfishly hiding my gift in the ground rather than investing it as I should.

What gift has God given you that you have hidden rather than investing?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Last Poll = Lame. New Poll = Intriguing.

All right. I've decided to do something different. I've wiped the last poll off of my blog because I thought (and apparently so did most of you) that it was kind of boring. So, I came up with a new one that might get some laughs and that I can and will exploit to my heart's desire because no one, including myself, will know who said what.

A few months ago, I heard a conversation on my favorite radio station about how likely people were to clip and use coupons for their grocery shopping excursions. (BTW, they're streaming online, so you can listen, too!)

One of the male DJs on the show was getting all upset and uncomfortable with the idea of men using coupons. Some of the ladies who called in said they didn't like to use them either, because of the time it takes to scan and approve them, and the looks they think they're getting because they're using them. Other people who called in said, "What's wrong with taking a little extra time to save money at the cash register?"

It's true that using coupons can save you major bucks, especially if you've got an extensive grocery list. It's also true that it takes time to find, clip and put those puppies to use!

So, in which court are you? Are you one who uses coupons or doesn't? There's no shame in either answer, and your name will never be revealed unless you choose to do so in the comments section.

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All right. I gave in.

HT to Devona and Elle for the idea. (Google your name followed by the word "needs" and see what you find.) This is what I found.
  1. Erica needs surgical help. Her breasts are drooping and there is a lot of droopiness in the face.
  2. Erica needs all the help and all the heroes she can get.
  3. Erica's needs can only be met in a special class in which all the children have developmental delays and disabilities.
  4. Erica needs therapy soooo bad. I've never seen such damaged goods.
  5. Erica needs to read her books a little more closely.
  6. Erica needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  7. Erica needs time to digest all these.
I especially think the first one is funny! Next!

Time to share poll results!

Okay, I know you've all been wondering what the results of my poll are and when I'm going to finally change it. Well, today is the day (providing my hubby doesn't hog the computer tonight, that is)!

  • There were 33 votes counted for the men's poll, and 26 for the women's poll.
  • Six men said they like to buy flowers for the women in their lives, while only two said they like to receive them.
  • Two men said they like to buy their ladies jewelry, but none of the ladies voted for this.
  • It was a little closer for "sex." A total of 18 men and 14 women voted for this special "gift."
  • As for an expensive dinner, two men and three women voted in favor.
  • Five men compared to seven women voted for something that she's been hinting at that he was too dense to notice before.
  • None of the other options received votes.

My conclusion: Men, you're on the right track, but some of you really need to pay more attention to the clues your women are giving you. Flowers are nice and pretty, but unless they still have roots, they wither really quickly. Women don't enjoy getting jewelry as much as they do the other options mentioned above.

So, if there is a special occasion in your future, particularly if it's something to celebrate with or for the woman in your life, I hope this has helped narrow your search of what to do or get for her.

As soon as I have another poll made up, I'll post it, so be on the lookout! Thanks to all who participated in the most recent one!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Deaf Ministry Workshop went really well!

The pastor in my photo to the left is the son of two deaf parents who, until recently, lived in Wichita. His name is Pr. Jerold Munz, and he lives in Indiana. He came to Kansas specifically for the Deaf Ministry Workshop this past Saturday.

The sign he's using right now is the sign for "story." He was explaining the message on the screen behind him.

There were probably about 30 Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals at the workshop, some whom I consider old friends, and some I'd never met before but quickly warmed up to and who warmed up to me.

If you're wondering about this "story" business, the theme for Deaf ministry in Kansas is "I Love to Tell the Story," and it's about hearing people telling the Deaf and the Deaf telling other Deaf about God and Jesus, and spreading His Word. Apparently, those in the Deaf community pay more attention to other Deaf when discussing religion than to hearing people. It makes sense because other Deaf people are just like them: they have a common bond that is immediately recognizable.

We listened and watched as Pr. Munz and others shared Bible stories with us, and related it to our task of evangelizing to the world, especially that part of the world that is forgotten because they are silent: the Deaf.

When the workshop was over Saturday evening, I went home with and stayed the night with some old friends of mine: Pr. David Schemm and his wife Jan. Jan's son, Kyle, and I dated when I was in 8th and 9th grades. He is profoundly deaf, and he and his family were responsible for my initial interest and learning of sign language!

Before you get bent out of shape about me staying the night with my ex-boyfriend's parents, no, he was not there. He's living in Norman, Oklahoma, going to OU right now. I did, however, have a marvelous time with his mom, step-dad and younger sister Julie. They were incredibly accommodating, providing me with a large bedroom and queen-sized bed, three bathroom towels and a washrag, and two bars of soap! Julie gave me an old pair of shoes she can't wear anymore that I just thought were darling, Mrs. Schemm took me out for breakfast Sunday morning at the coffee shop that Julie works for, and Pr. and Mrs. Schemm took me out for lunch after church!

I had a really good time in Topeka both at the workshop and with Schemms. I hope that future workshops and conferences are close enough that I and they get to go, although Pr. Schemm might have a more difficult time because he'd have to find someone to preach for him.

Anyway, here is a picture of the two of them:

If either of them is looking at this, thank you once again! You are very special people and I will always consider you friends!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Experimenting in the Kitchen: Stuffed Tacos

Yesterday, just before I left to go to my Deaf Communication Studies class, I decided to try to bake something that I saw on a quick television commercial for Pillsbury biscuits. I wanted to get some whole wheat ones, but try as I might, I couldn't find any, so I used buttermilk biscuits.

Anyway, I browned a pound of ground beef and flattened out the biscuits on a cookie sheet, then put some gound beef in the center and topped it with sliced stewed tomatoes and cheese, and folded the biscuit dough around it and baked these "stuffed tacos" in the oven for about ten minutes (I should have added some onion slivers, too). When I pulled them out, I immediately put them on plates and topped them with a little more cheese and some salsa. Maybe next time I should think about getting some sour cream, too.

Ron loved them. He said he was going to take some for lunch today so he could make some of the students in the lab jealous. Unfortunately, he said, no one was around when he heated them up to eat. I guess when I make something special, like my famous meatloaf or a casserole or something, people get jealous because no one cooks for them like that. Awwwww... Makes me feel good that I can make people jealous of what I've figured out how to cook on my own! I never really got any instruction in cooking before Ron and I got married; I've had to teach myself a lot.

What do you think about this recipe? Maybe Ron and I should make "Cooking with the Swede" a collaborative effort... He started a blog like that, but I don't think he's made too many contributions to it, himself. Would any of you be interested in reading or contributing to a blog like that? It would be kind of a blogcook book... Thoughts?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

For my Interpreting Class: The Lord's Prayer

Last night, in my Interpreting I class, I interpreted The Lord's Prayer, as was suggested by not only three of my faithful readers, but also by others. It was also the option that I was most comfortable with.

Interestingly enough, all but three people in my class interpreted something of a Christian nature. Most did songs by Christian music artists (some with a country twang *gag*), and others did Christian poetry. One of the JWs interpreted "Beautiful Boy" from the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus," and the other interpreted a child's book related to "Thomas the Train."

While I was practicing before last night's class, I realized that one of the signs I was using in the prayer was incorrect. Not that it had any other meanings of which I was aware, but it was incorrect, nonetheless, and had to be changed. When I finished my interpreting in class, it seemed that everyone was pleased with it, and that made me feel better about interpreting a prayer.

Thank you to all who left your recommendations in my comments stream. I appreciate you more than you know.