". . . 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, November 14, 2016

One Day You Turn Around and He's All Grown Up

And he does amazing things like give a concert at a national worship conference, one that in spite of what you might think, his dad had nothing to do with facilitating.

And you can't go because there are things that need doing at home, but luckily, your husband who is on the road is able to swing by for the performance.

And then after your husband drives away, that grownup kid will prepare to get on a plane and fly to another state to meet a teacher he is considering studying with for his doctoral work. He set up the visit and arranged his own travel and will get himself there and back without any help from us.

When I worry (as I shouldn't, because I have a great God), one of the things I worry about is my kids when their dad and I are gone. My husband and I have now buried all of our parents, and it is a difficult thing no matter how old you are. We are very, very close to our kids. I am thankful that they come to us for so much in the way of advice and direction in their lives. But I have worried that maybe they need us too much.

I worry less as the years go on. I know they'll be sad when their parents die, as we were when ours died. But I think they're going to be okay. And that is a blessed feeling indeed.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Election

Compared to previous election years, I have blogged very little about the presidential election. I suppose that is due in part to the fact that I am posting less overall. But I think it is also due to simply not knowing what to say. Not only am I at a loss for what to say, I have been at a loss for what to do. It goes without saying that I will not be voting for Clinton. But the concerns I have about the Republican nominee have led me to the conclusion I also can't vote for him. At various times this election cycle I have revisited that decision, asking myself whether I should reconsider it. Are the stakes so high that I must ignore all my doubts and do something that everything within me recoils against?

That's what a lot of people are saying. But every time I have tried to picture myself in the voting booth, bubbling in the circle for Trump, I have been caught up short. People say a vote for Trump is not a vote for the man but for what he represents--a platform or set of promises or cabinet. In other words, a strategic vote.

Okay, then. If a strategic vote is all I have, that leaves me with Gary Johnson. He is the only other candidate on the ballot in Oklahoma and the only third-party candidate who is on the ballot in all 50 states. The Libertarian Party is the party with the best chance of cracking the two-party dominance of our electoral process. I am not a great fan of Gary Johnson. I have not put a bumper sticker on my car or a sign in my yard. I know he's not going to win. But there is no chance, in my state of Oklahoma, that Hillary Clinton is going to win. Oklahoma will go for Trump. So I see a vote for Gary Johnson as a vote against the system that gave us two such woefully unsatisfactory candidates. If my vote can help send some sort of message, however small, or if it can in a tiny way weaken the two-party stranglehold on the process, I consider that to be a better use of it than throwing it away on a candidate I can't abide who is easily going to win my state without me.

So to those who have suggested that someone who casts a third-party vote this year is setting himself up as somehow holier-than-thou or up on some sort of high horse, spare me. If I were truly acting out of some elevated idea of principle I would refrain from voting for president altogether or write in a name that the state of Oklahoma would promptly throw in the trash because it doesn't count write-in votes. But I'm not doing that. I'm compromising. I'm holding my nose and voting in the way that I think my vote will have the greatest impact. My suggestion to anyone reading who is still undecided is that you do the same. What that actually means, I don't know, as it varies from state to state. God bless you as you try to figure it out.

I look forward to the day that I can once again cast a vote for president that I can be proud of.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"What is meant by daily bread?"

"Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like." - Luther's Small Catechism, The Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer

So, if God tells us to pray for "devout and faithful rulers," why is it so misguided to suggest that we might also want to vote for some?

Thursday, September 22, 2016


From "Justice," The Cardinal Virtues by William DeWitt Hyde, 1903

The essence of injustice consists in treating people, not as persons, having interests and ends of their own, but as mere tools or machines, to do the things we want to have done. The penalty of injustice is a hardening of heart and shrivelling of soul; so that if a person were to treat everybody in that way, he would come to dwell in a world of things, and, before he knew it, degenerate into a mere thing himself. Lord Rosebery points out that this habit of treating men as mere means to his own ends was what made Napoleon's mind lose its sanity of judgment, and made hia heart the friendless, cheerless desolation that it was in his last days. We have all seen persons in whom this hardening, shrivelling, drying-up process had reached almost the vanishing point. The employer toward his " hands"; the officer toward his troops; the teacher, even, toward his scholars; the housekeeper toward her servants; all of us toward the people who cook our food, and make our beds, and sell our meat, and raise our vegetables, are in imminent dan- ger of slipping down on to this immoral level of treating them as mere machines. Royce, in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy, has set this forth most forcibly, among English writer ; though it lies at the heart of all the German formulas, like Kant's "Treat humanity, whether in thyself or in others, always as an end, never as a means," and Hegel's "Be a person, and respect the personality of others." Royce says: " Let one look over the range of his bare acquaintanceship; let him leave out his friends, and the people in whom he takes a special personal interest; let him regard the rest of his world of fellow men, — his butcher, his grocer, the policeman that patrols his street, the newsboy, the servant in his kitchen, his business rivals. Are they not one and all to him ways of behavior toward himself or other people, outwardly effective beings, rather than realized masses of genuine inner sentiment, of love, or of felt desire? Does he not naturally think of each of them rather as a way of outward action than as a way of inner volition? His butcher, his newsboy, his servant, — are they not for him industrious or lazy, honest or deceitful, polite or uncivil, useful or useless people, rather than self-conscious people? Is any one of these alive for him in the full sense, — sentient, emotional, and otherwise like himself, as perhaps his own son, or his own mother or wife, seems to him to be? Is it not rather their being for him, not for themselves, that he considers in all his ordinary life? Not their inner volitional nature is realized, but their manner of outward activity. Such is the nature and ground of the illusion of selfishness."

This passage from Royce lays bare the source of the greater part of the social immorality in the world, and accounts for nine-tenths of all the world's trouble. . . .

. . . The most fundamental question a man can ask about our character is whether and to what extent we habitually treat persons as persons, and not as things.

Friday, September 16, 2016


I'm resting at home today after foot surgery this morning.

After dealing with foot pain for several years with less aggressive measures (cortisone injections, orthotics) not helping sufficiently, I decided to go forward with surgery to remove a neuroma in my left foot. The particular issue I have is known as a Morton's neuroma. My podiatrist says that mine is less common in being between the second and third toes instead of the third and fourth as in the diagram. I have several friends who have had this surgery and report that it was very helpful and they would do it again. I hope I will eventually be able to report the same! Right now I am still nicely numbed up, but I have great caregivers, pain medicine at the ready if I should need it, and the next few days emptied of commitments. I am already taking short walks with a protective shoe. I go back in Tuesday for a post-op visit. Until then, sponge baths only (so local people, be warned!).

I find myself feeling very thankful for many things today. First, for a son who is able to wait on me while his dad, who stayed home much of the day, goes in to church to practice a few hours. Another perq of homeschooling! Evan made me lunch: ☺

Second, I am especially thankful for a husband that decreed 2016 as the "Year of Cheryl" healthwise. Our health plan is such that we have great coverage for one person. It is a high deductible policy but has an expense reimbursement account that partially covers the deductible. The thing is, there are only enough funds to cover part of one person's deductible. If more than one person needs care, the family deductible kicks in and there are no funds for it. And given our current budget, to cover a second deductible would be a difficult thing to do.

So even though he is older than I and has some of his own issues looming, my dear husband stepped aside and pushed me ahead of him in line. Thankfully, no one else in the family has had any serious health concerns. So far this year I have had a full physical (first one in years) including blood work, female stuff and mammogram (other than some anemia and Vitamin D deficiency everything looked good); allergy testing (confirming I am pretty much allergic to every grass, tree and mold in the world) and desensitization therapy (third time I have done this, but allergens are different in Oklahoma); a bone scan to check for any signs of the osteoporosis my mother had so badly (all looks good); a baseline colonoscopy (good), and an upper GI scope to check on previously diagnosed issues (hiatal hernia, esophageal stricture).

I'm sure you were really interested in all that. I share it to illustrate several other things for which I am thankful--that the health issues I do have are quite treatable, that we have insurance that provides for sufficient coverage to treat them, that we have the freedom to choose the doctors we want to carry out the treatment, and that those doctors are providing excellent care. I was very nervous about both last week's scopes and this week's surgery as I have had very little in the way of anesthesia or surgeries in my life. But so far everything has gone incredibly smoothly (those drugs do what they say!) and the care has been great. I am looking forward to feeling much better next year, and with the foot and allergies under control, being able to get outside and exercise more. But I worry for the future of health care in our country and pray my children will be able to have the same quality of care when they are my age.

Next year is supposed to be the "Year of Phillip" but now he is talking about putting someone else ahead of him again, as Evan seems to have some of my allergy issues and could also benefit from allergy testing and desensitization. But maybe we can get him through another year with just antihistamines and staying indoors during the worst times. Dad deserves care, too, you know? I married a good man, and I want to keep him around a long, long time.

Thank you, dear husband, for being "God with skin on" for me. P.S. I am still a little groggy and disavow all responsibility for mechanical errors or poorly constructed sentences.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Seventh Grade

For my fellow homeschoolers, here's what Evan and I have planned for seventh grade.

Bible/Catechism - The next couple of months will be spent preparing for Confirmation! Evan recently completed all his required sermon reports (yay!) and is now studying for his Confirmation test. This weekend he is going on an overnight retreat with his class. Confirmation here coincides with the celebration of Reformation. Evan also turns 13 on October 29 (wowzers), so we are planning a combined birthday/Confirmation party for the end of October. After Confirmation I would like to start a home Bible study that we can do together--maybe a book of the Bible using one of CPH's People's Bible Commentary series.

Grammar - Rules of the Game. I know this series has been around forever and is a staple for homeschoolers. I had never looked at it before. I like the inductive method it employs, prompting the student to look for patterns and then figure out the rule from the pattern. The first book looks to be quite a bit of review of what we have already studied, but I decided to start with it anyway and just go rapidly through the stuff we know until we get to the stuff that's new. There are three books in all.

Handwriting - Evan still prints unless I make him do otherwise. He can copy cursive and make it look nice, but he doesn't use it naturally. I am hoping this year to have him make the transition to using cursive in more of his written work. We are still working our way through last year's handwriting curriculum, 44 U.S. Presidents, Zaner-Bloser style.

Vocabulary - We didn't like Memoria Press's Roots of English. The chapters seemed to drag on, the pages were too busy, and the amount of information overwhelming. This year we are switching to Vocabulary from Classical Roots. So far, so good.

Math - Finishing up Teaching Textbooks 6, moving on to Teaching Textbooks 7. I love this curriculum as it is computer based and requires almost nothing from me. Evan likes it, is doing well, and it is self-grading.

History - Given the events of last year (house purchase, move, death of my mom) we did not complete everything we set out to do, including Volume 4 of A Child's History of the World. But I've decided we can revisit that time period (20th century) within the scope of U.S. history, so this year we are going to do a rapid run through American history using this series from Angela O'Dell. The series is a conversational in tone and makes for easy reading. My goal is not to get too deep in the weeds but just to have Evan get an over-arching sense of the big picture of American history and a command of the major dates. He is reading on his own and constructing a timeline as he does so. Next year we'll do the same thing for world history. Then in high school we can do some more in depth study of the how's and wherefore's of it all.

Geography - A neglected area in our homeschool so far. We're going to start with the basics in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography. After that, I'm not sure. Stay tuned!

Computers - We are still working our way through KidCoder. Hope to finish by Christmas and go on to the game design book.

Science - This year we are going to use the series by John Hudson Tiner, starting with Exploring Planet Earth. 

Reading - In addition to readalouds and novels, we're going to use a school reader, published by Macmillan, that I picked up somewhere along the way. I am not sure of the exact grade level but judge it to be junior high content. It has poetry, fiction and non-fiction from a variety of sources plus a number of language-oriented lessons on things like dictionary usage, figurative language, logic, and the like.

My plan of incorporating some sort of art instruction last year was a big bust. We will try again this year, beginning with some lessons from the classic, Drawing with Children.

In addition to the above, Evan will have P.E., piano, organ, and French (Evan's first year) taught by Dad. We're going to keep this kid busy this year!

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Fiddler Jones"

"Fiddler Jones"

by Edgar Lee Masters

THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you. 
And if the people find you can fiddle, 
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life. 
What do you see, a harvest of clover?         5
Or a meadow to walk through to the river? 
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands 
For beeves hereafter ready for market; 
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts 
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.  10
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust 
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth; 
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy 
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.” 
How could I till my forty acres  15
Not to speak of getting more, 
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos 
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins 
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these? 
And I never started to plow in my life  20
That some one did not stop in the road 
And take me away to a dance or picnic. 
I ended up with forty acres; 
I ended up with a broken fiddle— 
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,  25
And not a single regret.

Gerard van Honthorst, The Merry Fiddler