". . . 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, December 26, 2016

Christmas Music

"The Holly and the Ivy" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

"Blessed Be That Maid Marie" - arr. John Leavitt, Concordia Publishing House from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Unfortunately the record button didn't engage and I didn't immediately realize it so only got a little bit of this one. Enjoy the teasing taste of a men's chorus. They sounded great!

"Now Sing We, Now Rejoice" - Stanza 3 from Cheryl on Vimeo.

"Gesu Bambino" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Christmas 2016

It's not over yet--only the second day!--but here's a pictorial roundup of our celebration thus far.

A few days ago we caroled with some of the members of our church choir. We went to several houses in our neighborhood and several homes of shut-ins. Out of 9 houses, one didn't answer, and one said "thanks but no thanks." I guess a success rate of 7 out of 9 is not bad. 

We got our tree a couple of weeks ago at a nearby tree farm and orchard. It had to wait a week to get decorated until we had more help.

The bonus kid is a friend of Evan's.

All done!


Poetically, on tree-decorating day we got a dusting of snow!

We started Christmas Day with Divine Service at 10:00 a.m. instead of our normal two services at 8:30 and 11:00. Then we came home, had lunch and let the cantor have a very short cantor's nap. Then, gift opening!

New briefcase!

Trevor and Caitlin demonstrating one of the Four Loves.

New Wii U game

Hillbilly Elegy (the book, not the guy)

Pajamagrams and a set of cocktail syrups

Copper mugs for Moscow Mules!

Bamboo cooking spoons. 

Trevor went to great lengths to get me this book. I was introduced to Dinah Craik last year by a friend. I enjoyed the book I read (Olive) and added more Craik to my wish list, but apparently her books are not easy to come by. Trevor had this specially printed and shipped from overseas. Thank you, Trevor! 

I also received some new slippers from Caitlin. My feet have had a rough year and appreciate it very much!

As for Willard, he got a new pillow and several tasty treats.

After present opening we went for a family walk. It was windy but not cold. I wore short sleeves!

Then, drinks on the deck. On Christmas Day! Nice work, Oklahoma.

Supper was oven-baked brisket, green beans, potato salad, and cole slaw with Texas wine and brownies a la mode and cranberry-apple pie for dessert.

We wrapped up the day by introducing the kids to The Waltons pilot episode, "The Homecoming."

 Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

"Where Two or Three Are Gathered"

Last night at the first of our two Christmas Eve services I found myself sitting alone. Phillip was playing organ, Evan was acolyting, and my other two children were planning to come to the later service. When it came time to light the candles at the end of the service, I walked to the other end of the pew I was sitting in. There was an older couple there, one I have seen many times but never formally met. As I approached them to light my candle from theirs, the woman smiled, reached out her arms to hug me, and said, "I love you." Surprised but touched, I returned the hug and said, "I love you, too!" Then, still holding my arms on either side, this wonderful woman looked me in the eyes and said, "You are so beautiful. I love your outfit." I thanked her for her kindness and started to go back to my place but thought better of it and continued standing next to her as we sang "Silent Night" to close the service. At the end of the service she wished me a merry Christmas and I wished her the same.

It's my first Christmas without my mom, and it's been kind of hard. But it feels like last night God sent me a little surrogate mothering. Not that I should be surprised. It's what church is all about, isn't it?

I pray you have been blessed to gather with the faithful this weekend. If not, don't wait any longer. Go.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:20

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lessons and Carols

As I have shared here before, the live broadcast of Lessons and Carols from King's College in Cambridge is a high point of our family's celebration of Christmas. It is our together time, our quiet time, our cozy pajama time. For a cantor's family, it is our one chance to sit together and do nothing but soak in the Christmas story while others tell it.

Last year as Lessons and Carols was beginning my mom called for me. I don't remember what she needed, but I remember being annoyed. All I wanted was an hour-and-a-half without interruptions or demands on my time. Was that so much to ask?

She didn't call for me this year. How I wish I could take back my impatience of last year. 

Forgive me, Mom. 

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
‘Glory to God
In the highest.’
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Friday, December 23, 2016

"Thou wilt love the gentle Lamb of God."

"And if thou canst believe that this voice of John is a harbinger of truth, and follow the direction of his finger, and behold the Lamb of God bearing thy sin, thou hast won the victory, thou art become a Christian, a master over sin, and death, and hell, and all things. Thereby thy conscience is gladdened, and thou wilt love the gentle Lamb of God." - Martin Luther, Sermon for the fourth Sunday in Advent, 1522

Sunday, December 11, 2016

December Update

This is a "I better post so I don't go a month without posting" post. Three days to spare!

This will be my first Christmas ever without a mom. :-( It is going to be very strange to not have her here to give a present to. I am hoping her marker will be placed by Christmas. It was ordered back in August. I would like to take all the kids to see it before our college students have to go back to school.

Speaking of college students, they will both be home next weekend. Yay!

Someone at USA Radio Network ate too much fruitcake and got the idea to invite me on for an interview. I am scheduled to discuss this article with host Rusty Humphries at 1:45 p.m. CST tomorrow. Probably someone will wise up and cancel me before that time.

Christmas cards have been signed, sealed and mostly delivered. Because we were unable to get a family photo done in time, I used this one from what I thought was last Christmas.

Then I realized that the above was actually two Christmases ago. This is last Christmas.

Oh, well, maybe I'll just continue the pattern of sending out two-year-old pics and let everyone think we look younger than we really do.

I am back to trying to finish reading the Harry Potter series. I read the first book when my college kids first started reading it, but I wasn't particularly impressed and didn't continue. A few years later I read the second and third books. Now after another multi-year break I am resuming reading the series, mostly for the benefit of my youngest, who needs someone to talk to about it. I don't know why the books have not hooked me as they have so many. Maybe there are just too many characters for my aging brain to keep track of.

This was recorded today. It is probably the last time Evan will sing a high B-flat in church. Voice change is imminent. Sadness.

"E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come" - Paul Manz from Cheryl on Vimeo.

But didn't our choir do a good job?

Blessed Gaudete Sunday!

Monday, November 14, 2016

One Day You Turn Around and He's All Grown Up

And he does amazing things like give a concert at a national worship conference, one that in spite of what you might think, his dad had nothing to do with facilitating.

And you can't go because there are things that need doing at home, but luckily, your husband who is on the road is able to swing by for the performance.

And then after your husband drives away, that grownup kid will prepare to get on a plane and fly to another state to meet a teacher he is considering studying with for his doctoral work. He set up the visit and arranged his own travel and will get himself there and back without any help from us.

When I worry (as I shouldn't, because I have a great God), one of the things I worry about is my kids when their dad and I are gone. My husband and I have now buried all of our parents, and it is a difficult thing no matter how old you are. We are very, very close to our kids. I am thankful that they come to us for so much in the way of advice and direction in their lives. But I have worried that maybe they need us too much.

I worry less as the years go on. I know they'll be sad when their parents die, as we were when ours died. But I think they're going to be okay. And that is a blessed feeling indeed.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Election

Compared to previous election years, I have blogged very little about the presidential election. I suppose that is due in part to the fact that I am posting less overall. But I think it is also due to simply not knowing what to say. Not only am I at a loss for what to say, I have been at a loss for what to do. It goes without saying that I will not be voting for Clinton. But the concerns I have about the Republican nominee have led me to the conclusion I also can't vote for him. At various times this election cycle I have revisited that decision, asking myself whether I should reconsider it. Are the stakes so high that I must ignore all my doubts and do something that everything within me recoils against?

That's what a lot of people are saying. But every time I have tried to picture myself in the voting booth, bubbling in the circle for Trump, I have been caught up short. People say a vote for Trump is not a vote for the man but for what he represents--a platform or set of promises or cabinet. In other words, a strategic vote.

Okay, then. If a strategic vote is all I have, that leaves me with Gary Johnson. He is the only other candidate on the ballot in Oklahoma and the only third-party candidate who is on the ballot in all 50 states. The Libertarian Party is the party with the best chance of cracking the two-party dominance of our electoral process. I am not a great fan of Gary Johnson. I have not put a bumper sticker on my car or a sign in my yard. I know he's not going to win. But there is no chance, in my state of Oklahoma, that Hillary Clinton is going to win. Oklahoma will go for Trump. So I see a vote for Gary Johnson as a vote against the system that gave us two such woefully unsatisfactory candidates. If my vote can help send some sort of message, however small, or if it can in a tiny way weaken the two-party stranglehold on the process, I consider that to be a better use of it than throwing it away on a candidate I can't abide who is easily going to win my state without me.

So to those who have suggested that someone who casts a third-party vote this year is setting himself up as somehow holier-than-thou or up on some sort of high horse, spare me. If I were truly acting out of some elevated idea of principle I would refrain from voting for president altogether or write in a name that the state of Oklahoma would promptly throw in the trash because it doesn't count write-in votes. But I'm not doing that. I'm compromising. I'm holding my nose and voting in the way that I think my vote will have the greatest impact. My suggestion to anyone reading who is still undecided is that you do the same. What that actually means, I don't know, as it varies from state to state. God bless you as you try to figure it out.

I look forward to the day that I can once again cast a vote for president that I can be proud of.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"What is meant by daily bread?"

"Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like." - Luther's Small Catechism, The Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer

So, if God tells us to pray for "devout and faithful rulers," why is it so misguided to suggest that we might also want to vote for some?

Thursday, September 22, 2016


From "Justice," The Cardinal Virtues by William DeWitt Hyde, 1903

The essence of injustice consists in treating people, not as persons, having interests and ends of their own, but as mere tools or machines, to do the things we want to have done. The penalty of injustice is a hardening of heart and shrivelling of soul; so that if a person were to treat everybody in that way, he would come to dwell in a world of things, and, before he knew it, degenerate into a mere thing himself. Lord Rosebery points out that this habit of treating men as mere means to his own ends was what made Napoleon's mind lose its sanity of judgment, and made hia heart the friendless, cheerless desolation that it was in his last days. We have all seen persons in whom this hardening, shrivelling, drying-up process had reached almost the vanishing point. The employer toward his " hands"; the officer toward his troops; the teacher, even, toward his scholars; the housekeeper toward her servants; all of us toward the people who cook our food, and make our beds, and sell our meat, and raise our vegetables, are in imminent dan- ger of slipping down on to this immoral level of treating them as mere machines. Royce, in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy, has set this forth most forcibly, among English writer ; though it lies at the heart of all the German formulas, like Kant's "Treat humanity, whether in thyself or in others, always as an end, never as a means," and Hegel's "Be a person, and respect the personality of others." Royce says: " Let one look over the range of his bare acquaintanceship; let him leave out his friends, and the people in whom he takes a special personal interest; let him regard the rest of his world of fellow men, — his butcher, his grocer, the policeman that patrols his street, the newsboy, the servant in his kitchen, his business rivals. Are they not one and all to him ways of behavior toward himself or other people, outwardly effective beings, rather than realized masses of genuine inner sentiment, of love, or of felt desire? Does he not naturally think of each of them rather as a way of outward action than as a way of inner volition? His butcher, his newsboy, his servant, — are they not for him industrious or lazy, honest or deceitful, polite or uncivil, useful or useless people, rather than self-conscious people? Is any one of these alive for him in the full sense, — sentient, emotional, and otherwise like himself, as perhaps his own son, or his own mother or wife, seems to him to be? Is it not rather their being for him, not for themselves, that he considers in all his ordinary life? Not their inner volitional nature is realized, but their manner of outward activity. Such is the nature and ground of the illusion of selfishness."

This passage from Royce lays bare the source of the greater part of the social immorality in the world, and accounts for nine-tenths of all the world's trouble. . . .

. . . The most fundamental question a man can ask about our character is whether and to what extent we habitually treat persons as persons, and not as things.

Friday, September 16, 2016


I'm resting at home today after foot surgery this morning.

After dealing with foot pain for several years with less aggressive measures (cortisone injections, orthotics) not helping sufficiently, I decided to go forward with surgery to remove a neuroma in my left foot. The particular issue I have is known as a Morton's neuroma. My podiatrist says that mine is less common in being between the second and third toes instead of the third and fourth as in the diagram. I have several friends who have had this surgery and report that it was very helpful and they would do it again. I hope I will eventually be able to report the same! Right now I am still nicely numbed up, but I have great caregivers, pain medicine at the ready if I should need it, and the next few days emptied of commitments. I am already taking short walks with a protective shoe. I go back in Tuesday for a post-op visit. Until then, sponge baths only (so local people, be warned!).

I find myself feeling very thankful for many things today. First, for a son who is able to wait on me while his dad, who stayed home much of the day, goes in to church to practice a few hours. Another perq of homeschooling! Evan made me lunch: ☺

Second, I am especially thankful for a husband that decreed 2016 as the "Year of Cheryl" healthwise. Our health plan is such that we have great coverage for one person. It is a high deductible policy but has an expense reimbursement account that partially covers the deductible. The thing is, there are only enough funds to cover part of one person's deductible. If more than one person needs care, the family deductible kicks in and there are no funds for it. And given our current budget, to cover a second deductible would be a difficult thing to do.

So even though he is older than I and has some of his own issues looming, my dear husband stepped aside and pushed me ahead of him in line. Thankfully, no one else in the family has had any serious health concerns. So far this year I have had a full physical (first one in years) including blood work, female stuff and mammogram (other than some anemia and Vitamin D deficiency everything looked good); allergy testing (confirming I am pretty much allergic to every grass, tree and mold in the world) and desensitization therapy (third time I have done this, but allergens are different in Oklahoma); a bone scan to check for any signs of the osteoporosis my mother had so badly (all looks good); a baseline colonoscopy (good), and an upper GI scope to check on previously diagnosed issues (hiatal hernia, esophageal stricture).

I'm sure you were really interested in all that. I share it to illustrate several other things for which I am thankful--that the health issues I do have are quite treatable, that we have insurance that provides for sufficient coverage to treat them, that we have the freedom to choose the doctors we want to carry out the treatment, and that those doctors are providing excellent care. I was very nervous about both last week's scopes and this week's surgery as I have had very little in the way of anesthesia or surgeries in my life. But so far everything has gone incredibly smoothly (those drugs do what they say!) and the care has been great. I am looking forward to feeling much better next year, and with the foot and allergies under control, being able to get outside and exercise more. But I worry for the future of health care in our country and pray my children will be able to have the same quality of care when they are my age.

Next year is supposed to be the "Year of Phillip" but now he is talking about putting someone else ahead of him again, as Evan seems to have some of my allergy issues and could also benefit from allergy testing and desensitization. But maybe we can get him through another year with just antihistamines and staying indoors during the worst times. Dad deserves care, too, you know? I married a good man, and I want to keep him around a long, long time.

Thank you, dear husband, for being "God with skin on" for me. P.S. I am still a little groggy and disavow all responsibility for mechanical errors or poorly constructed sentences.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Seventh Grade

For my fellow homeschoolers, here's what Evan and I have planned for seventh grade.

Bible/Catechism - The next couple of months will be spent preparing for Confirmation! Evan recently completed all his required sermon reports (yay!) and is now studying for his Confirmation test. This weekend he is going on an overnight retreat with his class. Confirmation here coincides with the celebration of Reformation. Evan also turns 13 on October 29 (wowzers), so we are planning a combined birthday/Confirmation party for the end of October. After Confirmation I would like to start a home Bible study that we can do together--maybe a book of the Bible using one of CPH's People's Bible Commentary series.

Grammar - Rules of the Game. I know this series has been around forever and is a staple for homeschoolers. I had never looked at it before. I like the inductive method it employs, prompting the student to look for patterns and then figure out the rule from the pattern. The first book looks to be quite a bit of review of what we have already studied, but I decided to start with it anyway and just go rapidly through the stuff we know until we get to the stuff that's new. There are three books in all.

Handwriting - Evan still prints unless I make him do otherwise. He can copy cursive and make it look nice, but he doesn't use it naturally. I am hoping this year to have him make the transition to using cursive in more of his written work. We are still working our way through last year's handwriting curriculum, 44 U.S. Presidents, Zaner-Bloser style.

Vocabulary - We didn't like Memoria Press's Roots of English. The chapters seemed to drag on, the pages were too busy, and the amount of information overwhelming. This year we are switching to Vocabulary from Classical Roots. So far, so good.

Math - Finishing up Teaching Textbooks 6, moving on to Teaching Textbooks 7. I love this curriculum as it is computer based and requires almost nothing from me. Evan likes it, is doing well, and it is self-grading.

History - Given the events of last year (house purchase, move, death of my mom) we did not complete everything we set out to do, including Volume 4 of A Child's History of the World. But I've decided we can revisit that time period (20th century) within the scope of U.S. history, so this year we are going to do a rapid run through American history using this series from Angela O'Dell. The series is a conversational in tone and makes for easy reading. My goal is not to get too deep in the weeds but just to have Evan get an over-arching sense of the big picture of American history and a command of the major dates. He is reading on his own and constructing a timeline as he does so. Next year we'll do the same thing for world history. Then in high school we can do some more in depth study of the how's and wherefore's of it all.

Geography - A neglected area in our homeschool so far. We're going to start with the basics in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography. After that, I'm not sure. Stay tuned!

Computers - We are still working our way through KidCoder. Hope to finish by Christmas and go on to the game design book.

Science - This year we are going to use the series by John Hudson Tiner, starting with Exploring Planet Earth. 

Reading - In addition to readalouds and novels, we're going to use a school reader, published by Macmillan, that I picked up somewhere along the way. I am not sure of the exact grade level but judge it to be junior high content. It has poetry, fiction and non-fiction from a variety of sources plus a number of language-oriented lessons on things like dictionary usage, figurative language, logic, and the like.

My plan of incorporating some sort of art instruction last year was a big bust. We will try again this year, beginning with some lessons from the classic, Drawing with Children.

In addition to the above, Evan will have P.E., piano, organ, and French (Evan's first year) taught by Dad. We're going to keep this kid busy this year!

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Fiddler Jones"

"Fiddler Jones"

by Edgar Lee Masters

THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you. 
And if the people find you can fiddle, 
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life. 
What do you see, a harvest of clover?         5
Or a meadow to walk through to the river? 
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands 
For beeves hereafter ready for market; 
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts 
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.  10
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust 
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth; 
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy 
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.” 
How could I till my forty acres  15
Not to speak of getting more, 
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos 
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins 
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these? 
And I never started to plow in my life  20
That some one did not stop in the road 
And take me away to a dance or picnic. 
I ended up with forty acres; 
I ended up with a broken fiddle— 
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,  25
And not a single regret.

Gerard van Honthorst, The Merry Fiddler

Monday, August 29, 2016

Good Dog

This is Willard. He refused to be still for our group picture at the musicians party we had at our house yesterday. When he ran off, our neighbor (who was taking the picture) snapped this one of him.

We are crazy about this dog. We got him in 2012, an election year. He was named after Willard Mitt Romney. :-)

Willard came from a rescue organization in Illinois. He was found on the side of the road with his brother, so we don't know what breed he is, but it is pretty obvious he has a large dose of Australian Shepherd.

(Willard with his brother at his foster home. The dog in the background is not Mom, in spite of the similar coloring.)

Cuddles with the boss his first night in a new home.

Here are a few of the many cool things Willard does.

1. He warns us about things, like mice and tornadoes.

2. When we shake our caipirinhas, he heads for the back door because he knows it's time to sit outside.

3. When we watch TV, he demands a chew stick (or three) by staring at me like the dog in Frasier until I get one for him. I guess he figures if we're going to kick back, he should get to also. However, when we have devotion, sitting in the same chairs as when we watch TV, he goes off to the side and lies down on the rug and waits quietly.

4. He is very respectful of dinnertime. He knows to stay out of the kitchen when we eat (he lies in the doorway to the dining room). After closing prayer, he knows he can then come in for his own supper.

5. He does lots of tricks! He can sit, stand, lie down, shake hands, beg, give you a high five, roll over, fetch, and even get the paper!

6. He talk to us. No, really. He talks.

7. He keeps sick people company.

In addition to the above, he loves everyone and is the gentlest, sweetest-tempered dog we have ever had. He has no territorial issues. You can stick your hand in his food bowl while he's eating--he doesn't care. He was incredibly easy to housebreak. He lets little kids get away with murder around him. He loves people and is not stressed out by them, even when we have 40 in the house as we did last night for our choir party. He comes when we call. We got him shortly after one of the most trying periods of our life, and he was a big part of helping us to heal

If only we could figure out how to turn dogs years into human ones. Or human years into dog ones. You know what I mean.

We love you, Willard!

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.