". . . 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, 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. 


Monday, February 12, 2018

Last Night

A little over 26 months ago, just a few days after we moved from our Oklahoma rental home into what we thought would be our Oklahoma forever home, I took this picture:


Tonight I took this one:


"Forever" is looking different from what we had planned, and tomorrow we will leave this place behind. How fondly we will remember our time here. That view!--oh, that view. What a salve it has been to weary hearts. How many mornings and evenings we have passed just sitting, gazing, basking in sunrises and sunsets more beautiful than we could have ever envisioned, drinking coffee, or wine, or caipirinhas as we watched a boy and his dog romp among the fireflies or head across the common ground to feed the neighborhood horses some apples.

I'm sad to think of leaving a home we have loved as much as any place we've ever lived, but in a few years that boy is going to be headed off to college, and his dog is going to feel less like romping, and as much as I pictured this view with grandchildren in it some day, I think maybe it's better that on Wednesday morning we will be turning over the keys to a family of 7 who needs the space and yard a lot more than we do at this time in our lives. I am so thankful for the short time we had here, even as I trust that God has wonderful times in store for us about 375 miles up the road in a place called High Ridge. I think the grandchildren, if and when we have some, will be able to find us there, don't you?

I'll be back in a few days to post our first pics of our new home. :-)


Sunday, January 28, 2018

From Texas to Illinois to Oklahoma to . . .


Almost 25 years ago we packed up what little we had and moved from Texas to central Illinois. We took a baby with us, but not a piano. The piano had to be sold because we needed the cash and also because the tiny place we could afford in Illinois had no room for a piano.

About 7 years later we moved again, this time from central Illinois to the Chicago suburbs. In a turn of events my husband and I would have never predicted when we were growing up and attending school in Texas, that house in the Chicago suburbs ended up being the longest place either of us has ever lived in our lives. We spent 14 years there. We gave ourselves, heart, mind and soul, to building a life there. We (mostly) reared our children there. We got a lot older and tireder there.

Then life took an unexpected turn. In another development we would have never predicted, we wound up in Oklahoma. Oklahoma?

Yes, Oklahoma. God knew exactly what we needed, and he brought us to a place of love and rest and patience and beauty. It ended up being the place my mom died. She is buried here, in a quiet, peaceful location, and for that I give thanks. Oklahoma, how good you have been to us. We hope we have been half as good for you.

Now we prepare for one more move, one we hope and pray will be our last for a very long time. In a few weeks we will pack up our Oklahoma house and move to Missouri, where I have been working in a job I love for the last six months. We are excited but sad. We will miss this place. We wish we could take the house, church and people with us. We will always be grateful for our time here.

For the foreseeable future my husband will continue working in Oklahoma, staying with friends and making regular trips to Missouri. He is working with our church to help them find a suitable replacement and to aid in the transition. In the meantime, Evan will join me in Missouri and prepare for his own new adventure: Lutheran high school! He is so excited about the prospect, if a little nervous about the changes coming.

We would appreciate your prayers for this transition, for our family's eventual arrival together in one place, and for my husband's vocation as we wait upon the Lord's direction for how he can best serve his neighbor in the years to come.

 P.S. We're taking the piano with us.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Mid-January update

I am back at work in St. Louis and finally over the December sickness, yay! Praying I avoid whatever is now going around my workplace. From the descriptions of what some of my coworkers are experiencing, I think it might be the same bug, which should mean I am immune, right?

Caitlin has been in St. Louis with me this week, which has been wonderful. I kinda like that girl. Yesterday we joined some of the LCMS Communications team in attending the Chicago March for Life. We left at 7:00 a.m. and returned about 18 hours later.

On the way in our nice, warm van.

Lunch at Nando's. 


On the right is the social media manager for The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. He does superb work. You can catch a few of his live videos from the march here. Unfortunately, the cold was a major drain on all our devices, including the livestream camera, which shut down before the march was over.



We have eyes of life!


On the way home we stopped for gas in Bolingbrook, Illinois, where we lived from the time Caitlin was 4 until she was 18. She has many memories of this city, as well as of Chicago, and would like to go back for a longer visit. We hope to do that when it's a little warmer. 


Much of our drive home was in snow. This is my back yard in St. Louis this morning.

Today I drive Caitlin back to college for her final semester as an undergrad! In May she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a French minor. Boy, did those four years go by quickly.

Meanwhile, here's Trevor back at school at University of Iowa, where he is beginning his second semester of his doctoral program in piano performance. Next to Trevor is his current teacher at Iowa, Ksenia Nosikova. Next to her is his former teacher at University of Nebraska, Paul Barnes, who recently visited the U of I campus. Next to Dr. Barnes is a high school student who formerly studied privately with him in Nebraska but who, after a family move to Iowa, now studies privately with Dr. Nosikova. It is a small musical world!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Useful phrase

So I learned a new phrase over Christmas break. My college kids taught it to me, and I'm liking it more and more. Here it is in case you want to try it out.

"Quit harshing my mellow." 

In other words, stop messing with my serenity, disturbing my peace, rattling my cage, invading my quiet, or otherwise impinging on my sense of calm.

There. Go useful that one and let me know what you opinion. :-)