". . . 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, August 22, 2016

And Then There Were Three

My adult children are back to school. It seems to be hitting me a little harder this year, perhaps because when they left last year there were still four people in the house. This year with the death of my mom, there are only three, and I am adjusting to yet another "new normal."

It has been an interesting month! Before the college kids left, we took a family camping trip to Big Bend in Texas. It was great in spite of a number of things that didn't quite go as planned. I have written an article on the experience that I hope will be available soon.

One of the challenges of the last month has been our car situation. Both my and my husband's cars had significant repair needs at the same time. As we tried to figure out how to address the situation both financially and logistically, a friend offered us his almost-brand-new Ford Explorer for our use (he has another car available to him). We gratefully accepted and have been using his vehicle for much of this month, including driving it to Texas! It was a humbling offer, one that showed us Christ's love in action. Wow. We planned to use his car again this weekend, as I needed to drive Caitlin to Missouri, and Phillip needed to attend the funeral of a dear aunt. Unfortunately, as Caitlin, Evan and I were about to hit the road, our friend's car started behaving erratically. So we had to postpone her return until Phillip got back with my car (which had been repaired). Having lost a day of travel time, I drove to and from Caitlin's college Saturday, a 16-hour trip. It was a long, long day, but one I was glad I did on Sunday when I was able to wake up in my own bed and go to my own church.

Both our cars are back in service, but my husband's is not long for this world, and we are only driving it around town. We hope to replace it around the first of the year.

Today is supposed to be the first day of school, inasmuch as we have a first day of school around here. :-) The principal is doing his part, but the head teacher is dragging. On top of the fatigue from all the driving, I have a sore throat. Nothing major, but enough to slow me down. I will try to do some planning and organizing today, and maybe we can start tomorrow. It is also going to be a week of cleaning and, I hope, unpacking most of the rest of what I want to unpack. We are having our first party in our new house next weekend, inviting all our music volunteers over to celebrate the start of a new season. Nothing like company to motivate me to do things around the house!

I have learned that the mice in these here parts think our house is their vacation home. We are slowly disabusing them of that notion.

I have been giving some thought to online security and privacy, something about which I have not worried much in the past. But as I put myself out there more and more as a writer, I think it behooves me to take more steps to protect my family's privacy, if not my own. In the near future I am going to revert all my public Facebook posts to private. I have set up a new public Facebook page where I plan to post my writings as well as other links I find informative, encouraging, or entertaining. If interested, you are invited to like and share my page!

 The three that remain. Photo taken last spring at Evan's First Communion. 
We haven't changed too terribly much since then. :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dreamin' on a Sunday Afternoon

Donald Trump's numbers are tanking. He himself is coming to terms with the likelihood of defeat, as demonstrated by his talk of a "rigged" process. This was to be expected from Trump, as he has a history of not taking responsibility for his own failures. For those who have pinned their hopes on him, this is an understandably discouraging turn of events. For others, it provides a glimmer of hope.

I am both a #neverTrump and a #neverHillary voter. Knowing what I know about both, I can vote for neither. I have been looking at the possibility of casting a strategic vote for Gary Johnson, in spite of my reservations about his positions on social issues, because he is the most viable third-party alternative in this race and because I think it can be reasonably argued that even though some of his personal beliefs differ from mine, his commitment to smaller government and respect for the Constitution would over time lead to better results.

But my vote for Johnson, should it come to pass, would be not a passionate but a measured one. I would prefer to vote for someone who shares more of my values and has a demonstrated conservative record, and I think there's still the [remote] possibility of that happening. Here's how. 

To Reince Preibus and the RNC: as it stands, you have lost me as a Republican voter. But you could get me back. Now is the time to use every tool at your disposal to convince Donald Trump to pull out of this election. Make him see that he is bound to lose and that it will forever be a stain upon his supposed reputation as a perpetual winner. Convince him that he will be better able to preserve his influence and image by bowing out now, before he loses, and portraying it as a move based in magnanimity and love of country. Then replace him at the top of the ticket with Mike Pence, his own VP candidate. If Trump supporters truly want to defeat Hillary, they will get behind the man Trump picked to be his second. If they don't do so, they are demonstrating that their support of Trump was never about Trump's ideas, but about a sycophantic loyalty to a cult of personality. In that case, they were never going to be reliable as GOP voters and it is best to cut them loose now. 

Give Pence's VP slot to Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has somehow and almost uniquely managed to be supportive of Trump and his supporters while at the same time criticizing Trump's missteps and excesses. He, too, could be a unifying figure, able to appeal both to Trump's supporters and his critics. And he would add the needed "attack dog" element to the ticket that would be lost with Trump's departure.  

To Mr. Trump: You have said you are not running for President to feed your own ego but for love of country, out of a spirit of self-sacrifice and a desire to "make America great again." You have also claimed to want to advance conservative ideals. If that is the case, and you also believe you can’t win, then it makes no sense to continue. The best, most selfless course of action would be to pull out, allow Mike Pence to take your place, and campaign as hard as you can for him and the Republican party, up and down ticket. Continue talking about and promoting the ideas you claim to hold dear. Take credit for giving voice to many who have felt ignored, for upending a highly frustrating electoral system, and for demonstrating that voters are hungry for something other than the usual political-speak. But be a big enough person to let someone else take the good you have brought to the process and carry it forward--someone whom not only your supporters but many others can get behind.

I am not a particularly savvy political analyst. I am just an average mom, wife, and concerned voter. But as I survey the current state of things, this scenario seems like the Republican party’s best shot at preventing a total and unmitigated disaster in November. Of course, it would require the cooperation of one Donald J. Trump. Ah, well. A girl can dream, right?   

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Slice of Heaven

The Divine Service is often referred to as a slice of heaven, and rightly so. When we go to church to have our ears filled with God's Word and our stomachs filled with Christ's Body and Blood, we truly experience a foretaste of the feast to come.

Recently, working as a reporter at the 66th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, I feel as though I had a week-long slice of heaven. My husband told me it was the happiest he's seen me in a long time. No offense to my kids, who weren't there. :-) But I agree--this past week was the most relaxed I have felt in ages.

Thinking about why that might be, I can't help reflecting on the past 3/5/7 years. It's been a rather long slog. For the first time in a very long time I find myself in a place in life where there isn't a huge life change, crisis, or ordeal either in the very recent past or near future. It seems like many things are finally falling into place. I give thanks for that blessing while telling myself that the current sense of settled-ness could change at any time.

But I think there are also some very concrete reasons that I found this past week so relaxing. I was working, yes. But there was so much that I didn't have to give thought to. I didn't have to figure out what to make for supper. I didn't have to clean. I didn't have to do laundry! I didn't have to make decisions about what needed to be done any given hour of the day because it was all laid out for me: go to this meeting, report on that committee, write that article. With all the walking I also got a good deal of exercise. And then there was the worship three times per day--one day it was even four! Not to mention being surrounded by people, over a thousand of them, who know whence their help and salvation come, and the joy of seeing and spending time with many good friends and several dear ones. 

Sometimes I have thought of heaven as a place where we have ultimate freedom, not only from sin, but to do the things that make us happy. Right now I'm thinking heaven might be kind of like the convention--freedom from having to think about what to do because God has it planned out for all eternity and it's all good! 

Here are a few pictures from the week.

Totally staged first day pic, pretending like I know what I'm doing. 
Thank you to my friend Katie for taking this. 

A few of the contract writers. These ladies rock! 

A few old friends. Lovely young lady and babysitter extraordinaire from a former congregation, and 

homeschooling Lutheran moms!

 Post-convention date with hubby.

Hubby with The Prez.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I blinked.

I just returned from a 9-day trip out of town with my husband. During that time---

My 20-year-old daughter ran the house, played chauffeur to her 12-year-old brother, and today picked me up at the airport.

The aforementioned 12-year-old calmly rode out a tornado warning while he was home alone and his sister was having lunch with a friend.

My 23-year-old logged another week in Schlern, Italy, playing the first of two performances he will give there, and visiting Seiser Alm and Cremona.

Who are these competent, self-sufficient people and what have they done with my babies???

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Donald Trump, the Supreme Court, and Our Children

Last week the United States Supreme Court struck down a Texas law calling for more regulation of abortion providers in the Lone Star state. The regulations had been aimed at protecting the health and safety of women by "by requiring abortion clinics to meet the kinds of medical and safety standards that legitimate medical centers meet."

Also last week that same Supreme Court refused to hear a Washington state ruling forcing pro-life pharmacists to sell drugs that, by causing abortion, violate the pharmacists' religious convictions.

These two cases are perfect examples of why I remain unconvinced by the argument that conservatives who have rejected Donald Trump need to disregard all their reasons for not supporting him and do so because, if nothing else, he will at least put conservative justices on the court. In the first place, I don’t have great faith in Donald Trump to stand by his word. In the second place, the conservative cause has not fared too well with the Supreme Court of late, Republican appointees notwithstanding. Anthony Kennedy, who voted with the majority on both decisions, was appointed by Reagan. Reagan was arguably the most pro-life President we ever had. Yet here we are.

By way of reminder, here are a few more examples from recent and not-so-recent history of Republican-appointed justices not assisting the cause of conservatives:

1) Anthony Kennedy (again, a Reagan appointee) joining with the liberals on the court on gay marriage.

2) George W. Bush appointee John Roberts' repeated bailing out of Obamacare.

3) The votes of Nixon appointees Blackmun, Burger and Powell with the pro-choice side of the Roe v. Wade decision.

4) George H. W. Bush appointee David Souter's turning out to be one of the best friends the causes of Planned Parenthod, the ACLU, and eminent domain ever had.

Time and time again this election season I have been told by some of my fellow conservatives that we are not electing a pastor but a President and that it is necessary for me to compromise my principles because Supreme Court. The events of recent days have only strengthened my conviction that doing so would be a devil’s bargain, a selling of my soul that would gain little in return.

As a parent trying to teach my child right from wrong, what has become clear to me over the last almost 25 years is that human behavior is much more influenced by example than it is by external rules. The old poem "Children Learn What They Live" got it right. Parents can talk unceasingly about telling the truth. If they are repeatedly dishonest in their own personal and professional dealings, that is what a child will learn. If they readily toss their convictions for reasons of pragmatism, children will learn that, too.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't have rules or teach principles of right and wrong. Of course we should. But rules don't change hearts. And in the heart/mind battle over decisions of conscience, it is usually the heart that wins. Why do you think we term something that has been truly learned as being "taken to heart" or "learned by heart"? The heart is where the rubber of our principles meets the road of our life--where gut checks happen and all that we believe is put to the test.

I am not saying that conservatives should give up. To the contrary, we need to work harder than ever before. But we deceive ourselves if we think the battle is ultimately going to be won in the public arena. The Supreme Court has demonstrated that it cannot be counted on to do its job. Conservatives’ best hope, then, is our children, for theirs are the minds and hearts we have the greatest capacity to change. We cannot hope to do so by voting for someone whose life and behavior make a mockery of everything we have tried to teach them.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How to Survive the Homeschool Expo: Introvert Edition

1. Check in at registration desk and get packet of goodies.

2. Head over to vendor hall.

3. Quickly circle vendor hall, avoiding all eye contact.

4. Exit vendor hall.

5. Decide you really need to get some groceries for the folks back home. What were you even thinking, leaving them all alone for an entire hour? Poor souls are probably starving by now!

6. Drive to grocery store, buy groceries, and drive home.

7. Verify everyone at home is still alive. Put away groceries, make cup of coffee, and settle down in comfy chair with bag of goodies and conference brochure.

8. Eat a healthy lunch so as to build up strength for the afternoon.

9. Head out to try again. You can do this! You're a mighty homeschool mom!

Don't mind me--I'm just gonna hang out here in my shell a while. 

Photo from David DeHetre/Creative Commons. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Threw Out the Cheerios Today

They were my mom's Cheerios, the Cheerios that have been in my pantry for about 6 months now. They were in my pantry on January 12 of this year, and Mom probably had some for breakfast. But at lunch that day she fainted and fell. I called 911, and an ambulance came and took her to the hospital. She did not get better, and on February 19 she came home so she could die in her own room. She went to be with Jesus on February 22.

I have tried on more than one occasion to throw out those Cheerios. No one else in the house eats them. They're getting stale. They're just taking up room. But each time, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Until today. As I was putting groceries away I suddenly grabbed them off the shelf and in one motion, before I could think too much, put them in the trash.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.