". . . 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)

Thursday, May 21, 2015


There were two items on the topic of forgiveness in my news feed this morning, both excellent, both from (surprise!) Lutherans.

The first is a Federalist article by Mark Hemingway that asks, " . . . [D]o we want to live in a society where everyone feels they’re justified in their self-centered critiques, or do we want to live in a society where when we’re confronted with something that offends us, we seek to understand and forgive?"

The second is from my friend Susan. It is a clip from a Milwaukee call-in show. The topic is a recent random killing in Wisconsin in which one of the victims, before he died, called for forgiveness for the shooter. The caller in the clip is Susan's pastor. I only wish the host had let him talk a lot more. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Church Pianist

A Facebook friend shared this. She did not make it and we have no idea who did! She found it on the "Christian Memes" Facebook page, which has 384,000 followers. For readers who may not know, that is my husband, bottom right. I love that he is the "what I really do" picture because yes, that is what he really does. :-)  

Speaking of being a church pianist, here he is doing that today for the first time on the grand piano our church just acquired!

First Sunday on the new piano!
Posted by Katie Wogisch Haddad on Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Week of Goodbyes

My son is about to graduate from college. I was talking to him a few days ago and it hit me that as we prepare to have him come home for the summer and prepare for the next phase of his life (grad school!), he is in the process of leaving an entire world behind. For four years now he has spent the majority of his days in a different city in a different state. He has built a whole life there, going to classes, making friends, working, and attending church. He will spend this week saying goodbye to all of it.

So often as parents we look at our kids as extensions or reflections of ourselves. When they are little, we experience everything with them. As they grow, they do more and more on their own. But while they are still living at home we at least get daily reports and see them frequently enough to keep pretty close tabs on the landscape of their lives.

But then they move away. And sometimes days pass when we don't directly communicate with them. They handle more and more on their own. They experience things, small and large, that we will never even know about. That is as it should be, and is something I knew intellectually but was reminded of in a more profound way as my son shared with me his plans for his last week at school. I was focused on the beginnings: the beginning of summer, the beginning of his graduate school career, the beginning of the rest of his life. But before all those beginnings, there is an ending.

God bless your week of goodbyes, Trevor. And thank you, city of Lincoln and University of Nebraska, for being such a good place for my young adult to build his first adult life.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge 4-Month Update

Since February, I have finished two more books and have another in progress. Looking for Alaska is done (I appreciated it, but didn't like it nearly as much as The Fault in Our Stars), as is LadyLike (previously unnamed mystery book). Moreover, a review of LadyLike has been written, submitted and accepted by Touchstone magazine! I think it will be published in the July/August issue. (Woot.) 

I am now reading Pride and Prejudice, one of the re-reads on the list. It is one of those books I read years ago because as an English major I needed to. I didn't particularly enjoy it at the time. This time around is going better--I am understanding more the enthusiasm some of my friends have for Austen. But I still don't think I will ever be a huge fan.  

All in all, I don't have quite as much to show for the last two months as I did in February. But it has been a very hectic time and summer is coming. I will need to pick up my pace to finish my list by the end of the year!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Luther on the Importance of Literature

I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature, pure theology cannot at all endure, just as heretofore, when letters have declined and lain prostrate, theology, too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate; nay, I see that there has never been a great revelation of the Word of God unless he has first prepared the way by the rise and prosperity of languages and letters, as though they were John the Baptists. There is, indeed, nothing that I have less wish to see done against our young people than that they should omit to study poetry and rhetoric. Certainly it is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies, as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily. To be sure, 'Wisdom maketh the tongues of those who cannot speak eloquent,' but the gift of tongues is not to be despised. Therefore I beg of you that at my request (if that has any weight) you will urge your young people to be diligent in the study of poetry and rhetoric. As Christ lives, I am often angry with myself that my age and my manner of life do not leave me any time to busy myself with the poets and orators. I had bought me a Homer that I might become a Greek. But I have worried you enough with these little things. Think as well of Luther as you can of your Captiva, and farewell, strong in Christ." 

Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, Vol. 2, pp. 176-77, Letter to Eoban Hess, March 29, 1523

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

National Poetry Month, Day 13

One of the fundamental tools of any poet, writer or speaker (that pretty much includes all of us!) is connotation. Connotation refers to the emotional content or "baggage" carried by a word, whereas denotation refers to a word's objective or "dictionary" meaning. Some words are naturally more connotative than others, and some are more denotative. For example, the word "house" is more denotative, signifying a dwelling place, whereas the word "home" is more connotative, suggesting not just a dwelling place but one that is safe and welcoming. So if you wish to express the idea of "house" in a way that emphasizes its positive associations, you might use the word "home" instead. On the other hand, if you want to use a word that does not have positive associations, you might stick with the more objective "house," or you might pick a word with a negative connotation, such as "shack."

Of course, individuals may have different associations for words based on their own experiences. Someone who grew up in a home that was marked by abuse may have a different reaction to the word. But we can make generalizations about connotations of words that grow out of the experience of the majority of people in a particular group or culture.

Closely related to connotation and denotation is tone. Tone is the attitude of the writer or speaker towards his subject. More denotative word choice contributes to a more objective (emotionless) tone. More connotative word choice contributes to a more subjective (emotional) tone.

Below are two poems about snow. What is the tone of each? What words, through their connotations, help create that tone?

"Snow Flakes" - Emily Dickinson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes

Are marshalled for a jig! 

"October Snow" - Lew Sarett

Swiftly the blizzard stretched a frozen arm
From out the hollow night- 
Stripping the world of all her scarlet pomp,
And muffling her in white.

Dead white the hills; dead white the soundless plain;
Dead white the blizzard's breath- 
Heavy with hoar that touched each woodland thing
With a white and silent death.

In inky stupor, along the drifted snow,
The sluggish river rolled- 
A numb black snake caught lingering in the sun

By autumn's sudden cold.

"Snow Storm" - Igor Medvedev

Learning Has Nothing to Do with Age

Evan started swimming lessons last week. He has taken lessons before and has some basic skills but is behind where most kids are by this age. This is largely due to the fact that we are not a big swimming family. Nor are we a big soccer family, a big baseball family, or a big [fill in the blank with the physical activity of your choice] family. We have always tried to have our kids do something physical, but jocks we are not and never will be.

For lessons we are going to a local swim school that offers classes during the day all year long. Evan is taking class twice per week. One of the classes is made up of him and three adorable, tiny little girls that barely come up to his belly button. When Evan and his classmates climb out of the pool to walk to the diving board it looks like a scene out of Gulliver's Travels. The other class has several boys that are a tiny bit bigger, but not much. In fact, Evan is by far the oldest child in the entire place both days that we go to class.

Evan has not uttered a single word of concern about being in a class with younger children. I don't think it has occurred to him that some kids might be bothered or embarrassed about the situation. I attribute this to homeschooling. He simply does not equate learning with age but understands that people learn at different paces and different times according to their readiness and their circumstances. This comes of growing up in a house where different-aged people learn together all the time and where it is not unusual for someone younger to be "ahead" of someone older. (Exhibit A: his mother, who is still trying to learn the Small Catechism that his brother and sister mastered years ago.)

Let's hear it (again) for homeschooling.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Of Mommies and Babies and Moments

Last week I did some piano accompanying for a local school. On Tuesday I went to the school for several hours in the morning. At one point, between rehearsals, the choir director went to her office and returned excitedly, cell phone in hand. "I just got a text from the babysitter! My baby just rolled over for the first time!" She was thrilled, and if she felt any sadness at missing this milestone, she didn't show it.

On Saturday I drove almost two hours to meet the same director and her choirs at a choral festival in a different city. I left at 5:45 in the morning and returned five hours later. The choir director had told me at our Tuesday rehearsal that the school buses would be leaving at 5:15 a.m. and not returning until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. since after the festival the students would be spending the day at a nearby amusement park. That mommy who missed her baby rolling over on Tuesday spent all of Saturday, her supposed "day off," apart from her baby.

When I had my first child I was teaching high school English. I would usually leave for school at 7:00 a.m. so as to allow myself sufficient time to drive to work (a 30-minute drive) and prepare for the day before students came. Leaving as soon as I was allowed to do so at the end of the day, I would get home at about 4:15. I am thankful that after my baby was born he did not have to spend time in day care or with paid babysitters, as my husband's schedule at the time allowed him to care for the baby several days per week and my mom watched him the other days. That first day I drove away at 7:00 a.m. after six weeks' maternity leave, knowing I would not return for over nine hours, I could hardly drive for the tears. But at least I got to come home after school, and I got my weekends off (albeit with plenty of grading brought home). I can't imagine having to go back to school for evening or weekend events (common for public school music teachers). By God's grace this situation lasted only about six months, as the summer after my first child was born my freelance musician husband received a full-time job offer, whereupon we decided that I would no longer work full-time. From then on I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom/part-time wage-earner. Having experienced what it was like to leave my baby for over 40 hours per week, I have never looked back nor regretted that decision.

To you mommies who are staying home with babies: may God strengthen you for these very hard days, and may He grant many moments to remind you why it's all worth it.

To you mommies who are spending days away from your babies, missing too many moments but doing the best you can with the situation you have been given: may God grant excellent caregivers to watch over your babies while you're away, and may He minimize the time you have to spend apart from your children. As much as possible, babies should be with their mommies. The moments are too quickly gone.