". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, December 31, 2018

I am baptized!

"Should the Christian stand all day long at the grave of all joys which he enjoyed in past years? Through Holy Baptism a great stream of joy has been conducted in his heart, which does not drain away, but streams forward with his life until its waves carry him into the sea of a blessed eternity. Should the Christian be reminded all day long that the flowers of his youth fall more and more? He stands planted by God in the water of his Baptism as a palm tree which becomes greener and greener and whose leaves never wither. Yes, his Baptism makes death for him like a short winter's nap, out of which an eternal spring--an eternal youth--follows. . . .
"Now then, all of you who believe in God's Word, let your watchword for entering the new year be this: 'I am baptized!' Although the world may laugh at this comfort, the enthusiasts vex its confidence . . . nevertheless, abandon any other dearly held pledges and speak only throughout the entire year to come, in all terrors of conscience and necessity through sin and death: 'I am baptized! I am baptized! Hallelujah!' And you shall prevail! In every time of need, you will find comfort in your Baptism; on account of it Satan will flee from your faith and confession; and in death you will see heaven opened and will finally come into the joy of your Lord to celebrate a great year of jubilee, a year of praise, with all the angels forever and ever. Amen!" - C. F. W. Walther

Sunday, December 30, 2018

In the Blink of an Eye

I couldn't sleep Friday night. It was my first bad bout with insomnia in some time--the kind where your brain goes in circles and just won't turn off. I am never sure what brings it on, but in this case I think a contributing factor was news of the death of a young woman of my knowledge. I didn't know her personally, but I knew of her, as she was on staff at a news outlet for which I have written. Her death was a huge shock, as she was not only young but seemingly strong and healthy. According to what I have read, friends saw her a couple of days before she died, and she seemed fine. Early reports attributed her death to complications from H1N1 influenza. She was found, unresponsive, by a friend, who called 911. She later died in the hospital.

I am once again reminded of how tenuous is our grasp on life. It's a cliche, but it's true: at any given moment, we are only a few heartbeats/inhalations away from death. The young woman who died is the same age as my firstborn. At the age of 26, she had already achieved a remarkable degree of success, fame and respect, at a level most of us will never attain. And now, in the blink of an eye, she's gone. I think of my own children, and how well they're all doing in their respective pursuits, and how healthy and (mostly) happy they are. Could something like this happen to one of them? Could they go from peak productivity and well-being to death in a matter of two days? Could my husband or I?

The answer is terrifying to ponder. It's so easy, when things are going well, to take life and its blessings for granted. Our family has had its rough patches, but compared to what some people have had to contend with--are contending with--we have had it pretty good. As I reflect on how good--and for how long--I find myself thinking that it's just a matter of time before Something Bad happens. Why should we be free of trouble? There's no reason we should. We are no more deserving of smooth sailing than the next wretched sinner. We live in a fallen world. Death, the devil, and our own sinful natures are always lurking, plotting to snatch the joy and beauty that are to be had this side of heaven.

What is to be done? Does it help to stay awake analyzing and planning and worrying all night long? Does it make it less likely that Something Bad will happen?

Of course not. Then why do I do it? Why do you?

Because we are faithless. We don't trust that God our heavenly Father is really and truly holding us in His hands. If we did, why would we worry or fear for anything?

Thank God that when we are faithless, He remains faithful. Thank God that He forgives me for too often allowing pointless worrying and obsessing to drown out the peace and comfort that are to be found in His Word. Thank God that even when we can't seem to see, hear, feel, or find Him, He is nonetheless at work, turning all things for good for those who trust in Him.

Please say a prayer today for a family that is facing a kind of pain and loss many of us blessedly can't even begin to imagine. Lord, let them know your love, and grant them your hope and comfort.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Raking Leaves, Then and Now

So, you know that thing people do where they re-stage old photos years later?

Pics on left are from Nov. 4, 2009, in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Pics on right are from today, Nov. 22, 2018, in High Ridge, Missouri.

Some things have changed.

A lot has not. :-)

We are thankful for it all.




Mom and Evan


Trevor and Caitlin

Willard and Dad weren't there that day in 2009 (Willard wasn't even born), but here they are today.

Here's the post from 2009.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Happy Baptismal Discovery

I was baptized when I was an infant, but I did not grow up knowing or being reminded of my baptismal birthday the way my husband and I have always reminded our own children of theirs. I'm sure I must have had to look up the date when I was confirmed as a Lutheran in my early 20s, but I pretty quickly forgot it again.

A few months ago, as we transferred to a new church after moving to Missouri, I had to look up the date for our new church's records. I don't remember having to do this for other times we have transferred. Perhaps the date was somewhere in my membership record and other churches simply shared it with each other.

Anyway, what a happy discovery it was to go looking for my baptismal birthday only to find out that I was baptized on November 1, 1964. November 1 is not only All Saints' Day, but it is also the date my oldest child was baptized in 1992.

Trevor, we have the same baptismal birthday!

I will never forget this date again.

"We share by water in His saving death.
Reborn, we share with Him an Easter life
As living members of a living Christ.
("We Know That Christ Is Raised," Lutheran Service Book 603)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Still growing up

Over the last few weeks I have on two occasions behaved in a way that made me stop and think, "Wait, was that really me?"

In the first instance, I was on a road trip with the kids, attending a wedding in Nebraska and then circling back through Iowa City so that Trevor could check on his apartment and we could all attend the dedication of a new pipe organ at his church there.

After the organ dedication service, we went to eat at a place we've been to before. It's a small, "crunchy" establishment with delicious wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads. We ordered and received our food and were about halfway through our meal when the background music suddenly took a turn and we found ourselves listening to a song that repeatedly used the "F" word.

I got up, went to the front counter, asked the worker to change the channel, and told him why. To his credit, he quickly and politely complied.

In the second instance, I was again out with the kids to see a movie this past weekend. Without going into detail, let's just say I found the ticket-taker highly lacking in courtesy. He responded to us extremely rudely not once, but twice. Young Cheryl would have most likely moved on but grumbled about his sour attitude. Older Cheryl told him, "You are being very rude."

Twenty years ago, I would not have found it so easy to assert myself in either of these situations. I am not sure what has brought about the change, but it's kind of nice to know I can still learn a new skill!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Future pastor?

A couple of weeks ago Evan and I were watching a TV program when an Amber alert rolled across the bottom of the screen. I shook my head in sadness and went on watching the show. A few moments later I noticed that Evan was not looking at the screen but was bent over with his head in his hands. I asked him what he was doing. "Praying," he said. Oh. Of course. That would be the thing to do at such a time, wouldn't it? Funny how my 14-year-old thought of it and I didn't.

More recently, Evan and I had supper at the home of friends--a pastor and his family. Another pastor was also present for the meal. When we arrived at the home, Evan asked if he could take his Bible in and ask a few questions. I said of course--pastors live for such times! So while I hung out in the kitchen with the lady of the house, Evan sat in the living room, Bible in hand, grilling not one, but two pastors about theology.

In the past when people have asked Evan what he wants to be when he grows up, the answer has been something related to computers or video games. Lately, though, it's been "maybe a pastor."

I am not sure whether to feel proud or terrified.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

All moved in

One week and one day after we moved in, I finally have a free moment to write an update. It is a rainy Saturday here in High Ridge, Missouri. Saturday! I suddenly have a new appreciation for Saturdays.

If you are on Facebook you may have already seen a few of these pics, but there are also a few new ones.

We had our closing last week on Friday morning and then, keys in hand, drove straight to the house. Shortly after we arrived, so did the moving van.

Move-in went well. We had a very good team who worked hard to get us settled.

These next three pics are actually from the walk-through the night before closing. The previous owners left us flowers and a handwritten card with much helpful information. Our realtor gave us wine and chocolate-covered strawberries!

You aren't really moved in until the piano is moved in.

New peek-through spot.

Happy Evan and Willard.

Welcome committee. (Hunting friends, just so you know, the deer in this neighborhood are not the edible kind.)

After a week, the kitchen is almost unpacked! These things take a bit longer when you're working full-time!

Last night was the first night we actually slept in the house! Since we didn't have appliances yet, Evan and I spent the week sleeping at the rent house. The appliance situation has been somewhat frustrating. The laundry room is not large. It also has a utility sink. That, plus the fact that the dryer hookup is on the left and the dryer door opens to the right, necessitated this arrangement for me to be able to access the dryer. 

Although it doesn't look like it, there is sufficient room for me to work. The problem is that, as arranged, the line to connect the dryer to the washer's water supply (to enable the dryer's steam function) did not reach. So I have no steam on a dryer that is supposed to have a steam function. I haven't given up, though. I'm wondering if a plumber might be able to provide a longer line. 

In other appliance woes, the refrigerator I bought is too wide for the freezer door to open without quickly hitting the wall and limiting access. 

I had measured to make sure the unit fit the space, but failed to think through the ramifications of the refrigerator being against a wall. So this fridge is going back and a 3-inch narrower one is coming. Lowe's is being great about letting us use this one in the meantime. They will pick it up in a week and trade it out with no restocking fee. And in an unexpected turn of event$ for a narrower unit, we are getting a little more cubic footage in a French door model with a utility drawer. Oh, darn. 

This morning I was feeling very frustrated facing all the appliance issues (did I mention that the valve for the refrigerator water line is now dripping?) while preparing to take my husband back to the airport after he was here for barely 24 hours. (He was supposed to come Thursday but didn't come until yesterday due to his flight's being cancelled for weather.) How quickly thankfulness can turn to exasperation. 

Reflecting on the morning, though, it occurred to me that had I bought the narrower refrigerator right off the bat, we would have gone another week without a fridge, as the replacement is having to be ordered. As it turns out, I have a fridge that I will be able to use in the meantime while I'm waiting for one that will fit better. I found my exasperation turning to thankfulness as I observed yet again the Lord's capacity for taking the difficulties in our lives and working them out for good. Then I found myself wondering if that is a rather self-centered way to look at it. As if God cares about my refrigerator when there are parents mourning children who went to school last week, never to come home. 

Yet I know that God cares about every aspect of our lives and that indeed He is present, working out all the details for the ultimate blessing of those who trust in Him. I don't know if He had anything to do with our appliance struggle. But I do know that we are called to cast all of our cares, large and small, upon Him, knowing that in all things He cares for us, and that because of that knowledge we are able, in all situations, to give thanks. So thank you, God, for a new house, a crowded laundry room, a refrigerator that doesn't fit, a home warranty to provide a plumber, and a husband that is fulfilling his call as both a cantor and a husband and father. It is good to be home.