". . . 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, September 30, 2013

This Is Getting Hard

Our house has been on the market about two months now. (Phillip has been gone about three months, as it took us a while to get the house ready to list.) We have had many showings but no offers. There has been very little in the way of negative feedback. I know that all we need is for the right person to see it, and that could happen any day--maybe today! Two months is really not that long. But a little voice inside me has started asking, "What if?" When we first put the house on the market I didn't look much past Christmas. And my vision of Christmas was that by that time surely we would have sold the house. I pictured us spending Christmas together in a new house in Oklahoma. But now that little "what if" voice has made itself known, and lately it has been getting louder. What if we don't sell any time soon? What if fall drags into winter, and winter drags into spring, and we're still here, waiting?

It's not just the living apart from my husband that makes this hard, although that's the biggest part of it. It's the realization that this is Caitlin's last year at home before college, and she could end up spending it without her father as a daily presence in her life (and vice versa). It's the realization that Evan has already missed out on one year of singing in his dad's children's choir, and now he is working on year two. It's the realization that we gave up a lot of things on the assumption that we would not be here to participate in them. The feeling of loss regarding those things will be even greater if it turns out we could have kept them in our lives one more year.

And yet as I write this, I feel like a big baby. I know of women who have had to spend much more time living apart from their husbands than I have. I know of women who are permanently without their husbands, rearing children on their own. Who am I to complain? The children and I have the familiarity of our home, our well-traveled paths, and each other. I have more free time than I've had in years! Meanwhile, Phillip is all alone, trying to learn a new job while not having a place he can really call home (he is boarding in a parishioner's house). He has the much harder "row to hoe." And yet he doesn't complain, but spends his time on the phone trying to build me up after working 16-hour days. He puts me to shame.

Once upon a time there was a church I loved too much. It's not my church anymore. There were some friends I needed too much. They're not in my life anymore. I have been told that I love my husband too much. He lives in another state now. Maybe if I loved this house more it would finally sell. . . .

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Words to Live By

"You know what they say. Giant worms can do whatever they want."
Phineas Flynn

Mom Fail, Defined

Noun, compound. When your 9-year-old who is a good reader but who hasn't embraced reading to the degree his older brother and sister did at this age suddenly decides at 9:00 at night that he wants to start reading The Silver Chair but when you go to the shelf to take it down you realize it's not there because you already packed it (because the realtor said you have too many books) and now it's in a box somewhere in the Portable On Demand Storage (PODS) unit sitting in your driveway and you really don't want to go out and look for it in your pajamas in the dark.

It's in there . . . somewhere . . . (probably right next to the microscope).

UPDATE: Narnia has been found. The microscope is still AWOL. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Luther and the Two Aunties

Today in Evan's history book we read about Martin Luther. It was overall a very good treatment. To teach Luther's understanding of Law and Gospel the author contrasts two aunts. Aunt #1 is described as having a perfect, orderly home. When you visit that aunt's home, she first checks you all over to make sure you're clean enough to enter. Then she invites you in and offers you hot chocolate, but it is hard to enjoy her company because you are so worried about spilling the hot chocolate on her white velvet sofa. Aunt #2, on the other hand, also has a beautiful home, but she makes it clear that her love for you goes far beyond her interest in having a clean house. In spite of the fact that you are covered in mud and she is wearing a white apron, she hugs you big and hard. When you spill your hot chocolate on her table, she wipes it up. The passage concludes by asking, "Which aunt would you rather visit?"

Of course Evan answered, "Aunt #2." But before we moved on from the story of the two aunts, a little editorializing was in order. I asked him, since Aunt #2 is so loving and forgiving, whether it would be okay to go tramping around her house in muddy feet, being sloppy with the hot chocolate, and generally not caring about trying to keep her house clean. He said no, and we talked about how Aunt #2's generosity and forbearance would result in our wanting to behave well in her house due to our love for and sincere desire to please her. He agreed, then replied, "Yeah, but if I went to Aunt #1's house I would like to throw a big ball of mud at her!"

I think he gets it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yesterday Once More

A few years ago I received a friend request on Facebook. At first I didn't recognize the person but soon realized she was someone I had attended junior high school with. I also remembered that for a time in junior high she tormented me pretty heartlessly. We moved to the town in question when I was in sixth grade and left when I was in eighth grade, so I was not there for long. I did make some good friends during that time. But for some reason I was selected by others as an easy target, and quite a few of the girls made it their business to let me know I did not belong. It was rough.

When I got this woman's friend request I thought about just ignoring it. But then I thought, maybe she wants to make amends. Maybe she is sorry. So I accepted the friend request. Over the last couple of years we have had almost nothing to do with each other on Facebook. Instead I have watched as this poor woman has endured a pain I can't begin to imagine: the suicide of her adult son. Through that ordeal and its aftermath I have seen her cling to Christ as her only means of survival.

A few days ago I received a private message from this woman. She said she was going through her friend list and asked me how we knew each other. I wrote back and said we went to school together in junior high school but then I moved away. A little part of me wanted to say, "How can you not remember me? You made fun of me for several years!" But of course I didn't. I told her that I understood the desire to trim one's number of friends and I would completely understand if she wanted to trim me. She wrote back and said no, that wasn't her goal--she just wanted to place who I was and now she remembered friending me at the suggestion of another mutual friend.

I don't harbor anger for this woman. It was so long ago, and she was just a little girl (a scary, mean one, but a little girl nonetheless). I'm not really sure why I'm sharing this story. Perhaps it is simply an example of how long we tend to carry hurts around with us. I remember this woman calling me "Bleached Legs" like it was yesterday. It took me years, well into adulthood, to get to where I could wear shorts or skirts without stockings and not feel self-conscious about my white skin. But she doesn't even remember. It's stupid, isn't it, how we let those who have hurt us in the past continue to hurt us in the present when they have long ago forgotten and moved on?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Nothing went as it was supposed to this weekend. As each carefully laid plan fell apart, I felt extremely frustrated. But in retrospect I see how, once again, God worked it out for the best.

I had intended to go to St. Louis on Friday. Phillip was there for synodical board business as well as for the installation of Rev. Matt Harrison to his second term as our synodical president. It was going to be great to see my husband and attend the festivities! But Thursday night I got a call from the skilled nursing facility where my mom is receiving rehabilitation for her hip. Because of low hemoglobin that had not improved with treatment, they had decided to send her to the hospital Friday for a blood transfusion. I reluctantly cancelled my trip so as to be close by for that procedure.

The nurse had told me Thursday night that I would be informed when my mom was scheduled for her transfusion. As of 11:00 a.m. Friday there was no call so I left to run a few errands. At about 12:00 my daughter called me on the cell phone: "Mom, we are having a showing at 1:00!" Of course, the house wasn't ready. I raced home and we spent a frantic half hour putting things in order, then left to grab lunch and go to the park.

While we were out I called the rehab center, only to discover that my mom had already returned from the hospital. (Um, what about that phone call I was supposed to receive?) Not only that, when she arrived at the hospital, the lab work showed that her hemoglobin had risen sufficiently that she no longer needed the transfusion. Really? I could have gone on my trip after all? I suppose at this point I could have high-tailed it for St. Louis. But I wasn't packed. Not only that, when we returned home after our picnic lunch it was obvious no one had come to see the house. I called our agent, who called the other party's agent, only to discover they were running about an hour late. We got back in the car and left again, heading to a different park this time. We didn't get home again until after 3:00. It would have been after 4:00 by the time I could have left. I was tired and didn't see the point of driving all that way for such a short visit.

But someone else did see the point. Shortly after arriving home the second time, we got a call from Phillip. "Guess where I am?" he teased. The right answer turned out to be heading north on I-55! He got home about 7:30, having skipped out on the Friday night and Saturday morning installation festivities so that he could drive an additional eight hours to spend one night at home. What a guy. We waved him away at noon Saturday so that he could get back to Oklahoma in time to play for church Sunday morning.

So what was supposed to happen this weekend? Mom was supposed to get a blood transfusion but didn't. That is good! I was supposed to go to St. Louis but didn't. That is good, too! It not only enabled me to be here for the showing, but it led to Phillip's deciding to come home, which meant that not only did I get to see him, but so did the children.

And hey, even the showing that ran late by an hour was a good thing. If not for that, we wouldn't have made a second trip to the park, which means we wouldn't have met some really cool ducks.

Ducks from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

One Thing Leads to Another

Road trip!

Ever since it became clear that we are moving to Oklahoma, I have been trying to do things that will be geographically harder to do once we leave this area. At the top of that list is a visit to one of my best friends in the world. She lives with her family in eastern Iowa, only a few hours from here. The schedule finally cleared enough to allow us to plan a get-together. So next week Caitlin, Evan and are looking forward to spending some time with our friends on their farm, enjoying fun and fellowship.

Then, as I was talking to my husband, he pointed out that it would not be too far out of our way to swing by one of the colleges Caitlin is interested in looking at: Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. So we decided to add a night to our trip and schedule a campus tour. Then upon studying the map, I discovered that our drive home would take us right through Hannibal, Missouri! Why does that excite us? Have you ever read Huckleberry Finn? If you haven't, you should! Hannibal is the childhood home of author Mark Twain and the model for the town of St. Petersburg in that book and its precursor Tom Sawyer. The town boasts a Mark Twain museum, a Mark Twain cave with live storyteller, and a riverboat ride, among other attractions.

So, a move leads to a visit with a friend, which leads to a campus tour, which leads to a family field trip, which of course can only mean one thing: it's time to read as much of Tom Sawyer to Evan as I can before Thursday of next week! That's how we roll in the Philipp Nicolai Lutheran Academy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Spoonful of the Bard

Caitlin and I have been watching the 2009 BBC production of Hamlet. (Because we have a difficult time finding an uninterrupted 3-hour window, we are watching it in three one-hour installments.) Our watching of this version of the play follows our reading of it and our watching of the Franco Zeffirelli/Mel Gibson version.  It is interesting to compare/contrast the different presentations, and of course, each subsequent experience with the play results in increased understanding.

Last night while we were watching, Evan remained in the room. This may not seem significant, but it is. My "highly sensitive child" is extremely wary of anything on the screen to which he does not have previous exposure. He generally self-excludes when the big people decide to watch a movie. But last night he stayed. He wasn't watching, really--just doing his own thing at the computer. I did see him turn around a few times to see what was happening.

Tonight at supper I told him we would be watching another installment and said, "You didn't mind it last night, did you?" He replied, "Well, I was a little disturbed by the violence and the cursing. But it didn't bother me too much."

Tonight he watched almost the entire hour with us. I think he's in for the balance tomorrow night, violence and cursing notwithstanding. Everything is just easier to take in Elizabethan English, isn't it?

Friday, September 6, 2013


Just popping in to share with those who might not otherwise hear that my mom is out of surgery (hip replacement) and in recovery. Everything went well, and I hope to see her soon. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Installation Sermon

Phillip's installation at Immanuel-Broken Arrow was on August 18. Here is a link to Pastor Wilke's excellent installation sermon. It was, of course, particularly meaningful to us on that day, but I commend it to all my Lutheran readers, particularly those with a special interest in music, liturgy, and the song of the Church.


Monday, September 2, 2013

School Plans

For those who are interested, here's our outlook for the year.

Caitlin is a senior. Her priority at the moment is college prep and planning. She is starting to fill out applications, which means writing essays. That takes care of English class! Having completed Algebra I & II and geometry, she will not be taking any higher math, but she is continuing to drill for the SAT as well as a second go at the ACT. For science she has decided on Apologia's Advanced Biology course. It is starting to look as though she will study some aspect of psychology, special ed, counseling, or therapy in college, so more work in biology seemed logical. For literature we are going to freewheel and simply try to add a few more great works to her personal anthology. Right now she is reading Fahrenheit 451.

When I was in high school, senior year was when you took government class. In keeping with that tradition, Caitlin is going to review American history and study economics and the U.S. Constitution. Our resources will be online course offerings from Hillsdale College and John Stossel, both of which are free. :-D To round out her curriculum she will continue her piano lessons. Her regular piano teacher took a job in Oklahoma, so I will fill in as piano coach for the time being. Tae Kwon Do is on hold until we get moved. Because of our move, Caitlin had to give up her community choir (a great loss), but right now she is singing with the youth choir at a nearby Lutheran church. We are thankful she can at least do that!

On to Evan. It's fourth grade and time to get serious. He is getting a little tired of Life of Fred math. That is fine with me, as I think right now he needs more drill than Life of Fred provides. So he will soon be starting on our family standby for this level, Saxon 54. For science we will use another family favorite, Exploring Creation with Astronomy (good preparation for all those stars he is going to see in Oklahoma!). We are still finishing up the yellow level of Learning Language Arts Through Literature; we will not be continuing to the next level but will also switch to Saxon for language arts. I have never used Saxon for writing and grammar so this will be a new experience. I mainly intend to use the book as a resource for concepts that I think Evan needs practice on. We will do a lot of the book orally and only do written exercises as needed. Evan has been working on the basics of cursive (Zaner-Bloser) and will continue refining his skill primarily through copying of Bible verses. I also ordered this book, hoping to work a little geography into the handwriting curriculum. I will have to tell you what I think of it later.

Our history spine will continue to be Story of the World, which we will supplement with historical children's fiction from our bookshelf. Evan is very interested in computer programming and has been learning some basics from Khan Academy. He will also be continuing with piano, of course, and after we move, church choir. Somewhere along the way we will try to work in some more swimming classes. Oh, and we are having fun these days with Schoolhouse Rock (especially the multiplication tables, since Evan is still struggling with a few of his facts).

I think that essentially covers it, other than catechism and family devotions, which are givens. Please let me know if you see any glaring omissions!