". . . 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)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Giving Our Children Their Due

A week or two ago a Facebook friend of mine shared the experience of her daughter's wanting to download a certain song that is very popular these days. My friend, extraordinary parent that she is, researched the song and discovered its unsuitability for a sixth grader. (For the curious, the song is "Moves Like Jagger"--if your preteens are listening to it, they really ought not to be.) Accordingly, she vetoed her daughter's request. On the Facebook thread in question, another parent posted a warning to my friend, something to the effect of "It's only going to get worse."

I see and hear this sentiment from parents a lot. It is the idea that children are hard-wired to challenge what they have been taught--that it is only natural for them to rebel as they get older. Many parents seem so convinced of this that they anticipate it long before it shows any signs of happening, and as a result I think they actually start pushing their children towards questionable choices in behavior, clothing, music, and more. It happens with young children as well as older ones. The 6-year-old girl sasses her mother and instead of being chastised and immediately put in her place she is celebrated and giggled at for being such a spunky little wisecracker. The 13-year-old selects low-ride short shorts on a shopping trip and instead of putting her foot down Mom shrugs and pays for them because "I guess that's what all the kids are wearing now."

The thing is, that's not what all the kids are wearing. Mine isn't. (Nor does she want to.) My kid also isn't talking back. Well, maybe the 8-year-old is sometimes. We're working on it. ;-) But having seen two children almost through adolescence with one yet to go, I refuse to accept the notion that adolescence is a time of life when, no matter what I do, my child is going to suddenly turn into someone unknown to me. I understand that sometimes things happen that we could not have predicted. Sometimes despite all our best efforts our children choose a foreign path. We are, after all, sinners in a fallen world. But far from its being the natural course, I believe it is unnatural for humans to reject their upbringing. Children who have been brought up to travel a certain path and who are repeatedly pulled back on to that path by determined, caring parents are much more likely, even if they briefly wander, to return to what they know to be safe and right and true than they are to head off into the woods.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but for what it's worth, here's my plea: Parents, please give your children credit for being the thoughtful, discerning, smart people you are rearing them to be. Respect their good taste, intelligence, moral compass and maturity. Don't write them off as hapless victims of the culture monster. Give them the best and expect the best in return. In my experience, not only will they continue to hold firm to the storehouse of intellectual and spiritual riches with which you have provided them, but they will go far beyond it, contributing their own discoveries and observations, which will in turn come back to enrich and edify you. And why should it be otherwise? They're your kids, after all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hope

This is exactly what I needed to read today. I commend it to you as well. Thank you, Reb. Mary of CSPP. Full post here.

"I Will Hope"

What do you do when all the crises—health, family, church—crash in at once? When you try to squash the sadness and the lostness into a corner of your throat because you feel like there’s no point in talk--treading over and over the same ground, when there are no new solutions in sight? When it gets to the point that you dread going to bed because there’s no peace in sleep, only—at best—a temporary oblivion overlaid with the crushing burden of having to get up in the morning and face everything all over again?

More’s the victory for the enemy, if he can get us to dread the bright dawn, to believe that its fresh rays can never illumine dark Hopeless. Recognize this attack for what it is, and remember: What do I know, even when I do not feel it? The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

No, everything may not look brighter in the morning, but “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him." It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

So eager am I to depart Hopeless that I forget: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

So eager am I to deaden the pain, to protect myself from the anguish of Hopeless, that I forget: what is such self-protection, after all, but the hardening of my heart against the only One can rescue me, who even now is at work in my life? For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief—though He cause grief!—he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

The enemy hisses that Hopeless is Reality. That dawn brings only drear. That hardening your heart against hope is your only protection, so shove your feelings back down your gut, because numb is the best you can hope for.

Hearken to a different voice: Today, as you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. Oh! How many rebellions have there been, in this foolish little shriveled-raisin heart of mine! Thrice in short span, the writer to the Hebrews echoes this exhortation, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Today, today, today—this very moment! Thrice-repudiated is the insidious accusation of never and too little and too late. Even amid the darkness, this is the moment of grace—of the shockingly free grace whose dreadfully priceless purchase makes all the difference, now and forevermore, between Hard and Hopeless.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Though he slay me with blessings beyond what I can bear, I will hope in Him.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Honey for a Blogger's Heart

I had the most lovely thing happen today. My friends Christina and Jeannette share a blog with a another friend of theirs (a lady I don't know but am sure I would love if she is anything like Christina and Jeannette). It is a reading blog, documenting their personal journey through the literature recommended in Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well Educated Mind. I first pointed you, my readers, to their blog in this post from 2011.

Right now they are reading one of my favorite all-time books: Jane Eyre. I wish I had time to read along with them, but at the moment I am still trying to finish The Hobbit (having been slowed down of late by the same things that are keeping me from blogging as often as I would like). But I am still enjoying their posts, and today, I especially enjoyed this one. Click over and you'll see why. And then stay a while longer and see what other hidden jewels you can discover.

Thank you so much, ladies. It is nice to be appreciated.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Drive-By Post

I'm not supposed to be here. But this is such a cool story I have to drop in long enough to tell it.

Yesterday to wrap up a rather long, hard week we decided to treat ourselves to lunch out. Actually we didn't need to treat ourselves as our wonderful choir did so by virtue of the gift card they gave us for Christmas. So after church Phillip, Caitlin, Evan and I went here. There are several locations in Chicagoland; we went to the one in our neighborhood.

During lunch (which was wonderful) we struck up a conversation with out waiter, a charming young man in his twenties. As we talked, he volunteered that after graduating from high school he had left home for college but had a little trouble settling into a good routine. In his words, when he got out on his own he found himself rebelling somewhat against his "strict, conservative, Lutheran upbringing." As he shook his head with sincere regret we tried not to spew our water all over the table.

We told our new friend that we know all about strict, conservative, Lutheran upbringings because that's pretty much what we do, and we shared that we just happen to attend a strict, conservative, Lutheran church where my husband is Cantor. Imagine our surprise when he informed us that he graduated from our church's day school about 13 years ago. We just missed him by a year. We moved to this area 12 years ago.

Further conversation revealed that our waiter did not attend our church when he was younger but instead, along with his parents, attended a sister church in the area that is known for a more pop-oriented style of worship. His parents have since moved away and he is living on his own, working as a waiter, and trying to finish college. Of course we invited him to church. He asked for worship times (he needs to attend early so that he can get to the restaurant for his Sunday shift) and then wanted to know if the early service had traditional worship. We told him all our services have traditional worship and he smiled: "Good. I always liked that best."

As the meal progressed we continued to enjoy getting to know this interesting and intelligent young man. Before we left he made a point of double-checking the worship time and wrote it down, along with the website address of one of our pastors. As I consider the events that led to our ending up in that restaurant with that waiter on that day, I smile again in wonder at the perfect way that our Lord works, turning the seemingly random and chaotic pieces of our lives into a picture that not only makes sense but that has surpassing order and beauty. Please pray for a young man named Josh. We are hoping to see him again very soon.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Bloggus Interruptus

Hi everyone,

I haven't felt like blogging this week and don't know when I will. If and when I do feel like it again, I don't know if I'll have time. I hope you'll still be here when I get back, whenever that is. Thanks for hanging out with me the last 5 years when I know you must have had better things to do.

Love,

Cheryl

Thursday, February 2, 2012

French Class

This is the scene in our kitchen about three mornings per week.

French Class from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

My child is the short one in the front row that sometimes to forgets to sing and is seen bobbing his head from side to side at the end of the video. Sigh. We're making progress, but it's slow. :-)


"Praise, Rejoice and Sing" from Cheryl on Vimeo.