". . . 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, October 31, 2013

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Reading this book with Evan has been an interesting experience. He can't figure out the main character. He disapproves of Tom's fighting, his naughtiness and his lying. And who in his right mind would elect to run away from a very nice home to spend several days and nights roughing it on an island, all the while letting the folks back home think he was dead?

Last night we read Chapter 25, which begins thus;

"There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure."

Evan's response?

"Not me!"

The one aspect of the book that he doesn't seem to have much trouble identifying with is Tom's affection for Becky Thatcher. It would seem I'm rearing a lover, not a fighter. I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Most Excellent Tenth Birthday

Pictures especially for Dad and Trevor, who couldn't be here.

Mario game from Dad

His own personalized copy of LSB from Mom & Dad

Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show DVD from Trevor

Willard & bows

Mario pajama pants from Mom.

Stuffed Snoopy from Willard

A watch from Grandma

Garfield book from Caitlin (she also got him a Magic School Bus book)

Big sis hugs. 

Money from an auntie! (Total haul from the aunts: $85.)


Happy birthday, Evan!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Goodbye, Single Digits

My youngest will be 10 tomorrow. To honor the occasion, a few final 9-year-old stories.

This morning upon waking he immediately said, "Well?" "Well, what?" said I. "You know what." I didn't, but a few seconds later I did. Moms are like that. "Happy Birthday Eve, Evan!" (What? You mean you don't celebrate the eves of birthdays? What planet are you on?)

Later in the morning he declared, "My passion for video games grows ever larger." Yeah, I've noticed. He then went on to tell me that some day he would like to have a job with Sony or Nintendo but not with Microsoft because they publish too many adult-rated games. "I only want to design E-rated [everyone] or T-rated [teen] games." That's my boy.

And on the topic of video games, it was a rather difficult night for the almost-ten-year-old. A downloadable program that he has been enjoying has ceased working properly. It is a program that allows the user to design his own Zelda game adventure. Evan has not been able to use the program for a while because of the malfunction, so his dad suggested just getting a fresh download. Unfortunately, the site where we previously got this program is now identified by our virus software as unsafe. Caitlin said she would see if she could find the program on a different website, and I went upstairs. A little while later, a very sad 9-year-old showed up in my bedroom, eyes red from crying.

"I did a very brave thing, Mom."

"What, Evan? What happened?"

"I deleted Zelda Classic and all my files."

"Oh, Evan, why?"

He explained to me that the program was no longer available, which meant that he would no longer be able to use the files he had created (a lot of files), so he didn't see a reason to keep them. I told him how sorry I was but also how proud I was and how what he experienced tonight is something we all experience throughout our lives: realizing when it is time to let go of one thing and move on to the next. I promised him that soon, very soon, something else would come along that would inspire him more than Zelda Classic ever did.

After he got ready for bed he informed me that he wanted to skip reading tonight except for the Bible. He wanted me to get to bed early so I could be rested for his birthday. "I'm going to miss my 9-year-old self."

I am too, Evan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This is blessing.

To have a realtor who, when you share some of your misgivings about the sale of your home ("What if something goes wrong?") responds as follows:

"And above all, your life and this deal are in the Lord's hands. So rejoice and have faith in the wonderful plans He has for you and your family! Living in faith is always exciting!"

Thank you, friend.

I love this kid.

"Evan, what are you doing?"

"I don't know what I'm doing."

--a few seconds later--

"Look, I did what I didn't know I was doing!"


We have a contract on our house! Closing is set for the first week of December. We will be having Christmas in Oklahoma. :-)

What does this mean? We are in for quite the month. Next weekend we will be going to Nebraska for Trevor's junior recital. Not long after that I will go to Oklahoma to join Phillip in looking for a house there. Come the end of the month, we will celebrate our last Illinois Thanksgiving. A few days later, we'll load up the wagons and head out.

I am not ready. I mean, I'm ready. I'm ready! (But I am so not ready.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sometimes I Forget

But then I am reminded. I have a Highly Sensitive Child.

I have gotten lots of reminders the last few days. Maybe it's because with Halloween coming, he's on high alert. If you've been reading for a while you know I am not a big fan of Halloween. I don't have a philosophical objection to it; it just annoys me. Evan, however, detests it. Not only does he detest it, but he is terrified by it. This is highly poetic since he was born on October 29 and came home from the hospital on October 31, resulting in my putting a sign on the front door that we had a new baby and would not be handing out candy that year. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago he informed me that he would not be going to the store with me anymore until Halloween is over. A few days ago, though, we made a quick stop at Jewel and all went in. As soon as we entered he remembered the season and held back, but I told him that we would avoid the offending aisles. Of course, the Halloween trappings are ubiquitous this time of year, and as we rounded a corner suddenly there was a life-size zombie suspended in the air above us. Great. Panic ensued and it was all we could do to get out of the store without tears. I am proud of him, though. He didn't melt down but kept his composure even though I, as his mom, well knew his internal distress.

The reminders don't end there. Yesterday for history we read about Nicholas Copernicus. When Evan learned that Copernicus died shortly after the first copy of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was placed in his hands, he started to cry. Last night as we watched The Wonder Years he ran from the room during a scene in which Kevin, the main character, has a nightmare involving a portly friend of his disappearing into a sinkhole of candy. He was seriously upset and it took a lot of convincing to get him to finish the episode with us. Last night he had one of his periodic crying spells about the death of our dog, Shiloh, last year. And yesterday I was also reminded, as Evan's teacher, of the difficulty he has blocking out other stimuli so that we can do something academic in nature. Sometimes it seems I have to ask, "Are you listening, Evan?" every other sentence. And then there's the other end of the emotional spectrum. This kid never merely giggles. Every slightly humorous thing is ROFLOL funny. 

I'm not sure why the HSC signs have been coming so fast and furious of late. Yes, there has been a lot going in our life, but that is nothing new. This family has been on an emotional tightrope for years now. Maybe it's because Dad just left again. Whatever the reason, I don't see it as a problem. I love my HSC. I love that he weeps for 500-year-old scientists and that he can't abide a plastic knive dripping with fake blood. Some might think he needs to be told to grow up and be a man and stop feeling everything so deeply. I say call me in ten years and I'll show you a man whose heart hasn't been hardened by being told it isn't supposed to feel. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"You, My People, Shall Be Holy"

Hymn written by Rev. Steven Starke in honor of Rev. Dr. John W. Kleinig

Tune, BAROSSA, composed by Phillip Magness

Premiered at the Festschrift Service hosted by Doxology for Rev. Kleinig at the Chiara Center in Springfield, Illinois, October 4, 2013

Stanza one was sung by Rev. Paul Becker.

That is your humble blogger helping lead the ladies on stanza six. (Sigh--I briefly stumbled over the words. What can I blame? Nerves? Aging? Emotion? Needing a new pair of glasses? All of the above?)

What a privilege and honor it was to simply be there, not to mention helping out musically with the first congregational singing of this beautiful hymn. If you are interested, the text and music are available via download from Liturgy Solutions.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


For years when I heard this song I only thought about catsup. The other day I heard it on the radio for the first time in a long time, and I think I finally truly heard it. Maybe you have to be looking at your 50th birthday (still about nine months away, mind you!) to get it. It seems for so many years I have been waiting--for something to be over, for something else to happen, for an end to one trial or the beginning of something better. I know that in all that waiting for Something Else I have sometimes--often--neglected to embrace the moment. I don't know how to change that behavior. In so many ways I am still waiting. But listening to this song is a needed reminder that "these are the good old days."


We can never know about the days to come 
But we think about them anyway 
And I wonder if I'm really with you now 
Or just chasing after some finer day. 
Anticipation, anticipation 
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting.
And I tell you how easy it is to be with you 
And how right your arms feel around me. 
But I rehearsed those words just late last night 
When I was thinking about how right tonight might be. 
Anticipation, anticipation 
Is making me late 
Is keeping me waiting.
And tomorrow we might not be together 
I'm no prophet, I don't know nature's way 
So I'll try to see into your eyes right now 
And stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

It has been too long . . .

. . . since this happened.

"Come, Let Us Sing" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

That is Evan, my youngest, fifth from left. It has been about 17 months since he has sung in his dad's choir. (Our last church, Trinity, didn't have an after school children's choir.) I am thankful he was able to sing in a community children's chorus last year. He had wonderful teaching there, and it shows. I can't believe how much he has grown in maturity and focus!

This was worth driving to Oklahoma for. Unfortunately, I don't think we can drive back in three weeks when the Schola Cantorum sings again. Sigh.

Note: I don't think the applause is typical. I just think people were sincerely appreciative and reacted in kind, rather spontaneously. A parish children's choir is a new thing for Immanuel. :-)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thank you, Pastor Seter

On occasion my husband has been accused, by those who either don't understand him or who want to hurt him, of being motivated only by ego and self-interest in the work he does for the church. That's why something like this means so very much to me.

"Partnerships: Making Music Together"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Knowing Our Place

On Thursday and Friday of last week I was privileged to listen to over six hours of teaching by Rev. Dr. John W. Kleinig. Here's a link if you aren't familiar with him. The conference that I attended was sponsored by Doxology, a program of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod that provides retreats and instruction for both pastors and lay people. My husband was the conference musician, so the icing on the cake was spending a few days with him! (We are still living in separate states.) On a side note, the conference was capped by a celebration of Dr. Kleinig's ministry that included the presentation of a Festschrift in his honor. The Festschrift is entitled You, My People, Shall Be Holy and includes a hymn by the same name for which Phillip wrote the music and his friend Pastor Steven Starke wrote the words.

I wish I could summarize the entire two days for you in some kind of organized fashion. I can't. The theme of the conference was "Holding the Mystery of Faith with a Clear Conscience" and everything began and ended on that topic. But along the way there were a few points that especially stood out for me. One concerned the doctrine of vocation. As I write this, it seems like such a no-brainer. And yet it isn't, because it is one of the things that we human beings mess up over and over again. So many of our problems come when we ignore or try to go beyond the station or vocation to which God has called us. Think about it. When--

children try to act like grown-ups,
parents act like they don't have children,
unmarried people act like they're married,
married people act like they're single,
lay people act like pastors,
pastors act like politicians or CEO's,
a government ignores its Constitution,
someone without a medical license practices medicine,
someone under the influence of alcohol gets behind the wheel,
someone who hasn't read the instructions tries to use a power saw,
a weak person lifts something that is too heavy for him,
a poor person acts like he's rich,
a computer illiterate tries to repair his laptop,
a musician or athlete attempts a feat that is woefully beyond his capability, or
Adam decides he is as smart as God,

trouble happens. So much trouble. How much better things would go for us stupid humans if we would only accept and stay in our place. And not merely stay in it, but rejoice in it, because it is the work to which we have been called, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. ( 1 Cor. 7:17-23)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

History Repeating Itself?

A few days ago at supper Caitlin and I were talking about Obamacare, the government spending battle, and the looming government shutdown. A little while into the conversation Evan asked, "Is that kind of like the Stamp Act?" He ran to get the the book about Benjamin Franklin that he has lately been reading and turned to the middle of the book:

Most Americans did not want to pay the new taxes. They wrote angry letters to the English government.

I told him that yes, it appeared there were some similarities. A king, or in our case a President, imposes an unpopular measure on the populace, resulting in great unrest and resistance. But further reading revealed that the similarities extend only so far:

Franklin agreed with the letters. He felt Americans should be free to make their own taxes. He worked hard against the Stamp Act.

The English decided they would have to listen to the Americans. They called a meeting. And they asked Benjamin Franklin to tell the American side of the story.

Franklin told the English that the Americans would never pay the new tax. He told them that the Americans would fight before they would pay it.

The English believed him. A few days later the government stopped the hated Stamp Act.

When the news got to America, there was great excitement. People cheered. Church bells rang out. Everyone knew what Franklin had done. He was a hero.

If only.