Our Cabin in the Woods

bearswitchTom and I have never realized our goal of renting a cabin somewhere in the woods for a vacation. Lots of kids,  the unexpected twists and turns of life, all of it have conspired in the last 20 years to keep us from our dream of a getaway to a lake cabin somewhere in peace and quiet.

So when we moved houses in August, Tom decided (and I was pleased to agree) that he’d add a cabin flavor to the new place. He decided the hall and bedrooms would be the best place to do that. We assembled all of the cabin themed wall hangings and lamps we had collected down through the years (in our wishful thinking), and Tom used them to make quite a cozy feel. We left Em’s bedroom alone, as she is into princesses and pink girly things, but little by little, a cabin feel is taking shape in the other bedrooms.

lake_vermilion_minnesotaIn my childhood, we camped on the islands of Lake Vermilion in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota. The sight of a moose or a bear was not surprising. (We came back by boat to our tents on the island to find all the trash cans spilled by bears, and one walked right into the camp when my mother was cooking on a kerosene stove once.) We also saw a black bear swimming the channel near us one day when we were in the boat. I have to say I prefer being INSIDE a cabin rather than outside with the bears, though.

Living in a town/city, you sometimes yearn for quiet in the wilderness. rugSome day we hope to take Emmy to see the “deep dark woods” as she calls it, like I did as a child. The stillness of the lake at dusk when the water looks like glass, the cry of the loon, the ducks swimming by, the sunlight filtering through the birch leaves in the morning, the scent of pine needles under your feet, warmed by the sun. These are all moments in nature not to be forgotten.

MooseBut for now, as winter in Wisconsin closes in, we are grateful for the  Schlueter cabin here, our field stone fireplace where we can burn real logs, and warm blankets at night. Some day, we are going to find a cabin in the “deep dark woods” and hear the sound of the wind in the towering pine trees through the screen as we fall to sleep.









Will Pulls Out the Stops for Thanksgiving – Repost

*Will recorded this hymn last year on Thanksgiving morning. He’s playing for a church service today, but here’s a repost of his joyful rendition of this hymn we love..*

Will is home from college and this morning, he recorded a joyful pipe organ version of this Thanksgiving hymn. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come!


Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home!



A Special Blessing this Thanksgiving

In God’s perfect timing, today I am going to pick up my new hearing aids today with our son, Will, back from college, coming along. We had no means, no way to do this. My hearing has been dropping into a zone where I can’t hardly hear the articulation and voice of my loved ones next to me. Through God’s vast mercies, I was able to get tested and to purchase new hearing aids with the latest technology to replace old ones that never worked correctly. The audiologist put them in last week, and tears just welled up. I could hear the voice of my Tom and Emmy standing behind me. Every word, as clear and crisp as can be. I heard things I haven’t heard in years, like floors creaking and when the audiologist took me outside, I heard the leaves crunching under my feet.

Emmy left this little piece of paper on my desk last night. She does this constantly, writing notes about God or bursting into song. (The other day she sang out,”Thy hand, O Lord, in days of old, was strong to heal and save!” just at the right moment.)

So this will be a very special Thanksgiving for me personally. Emmy’s note says all I can say from a full heart. I am so grateful to the kind people who made this possible, that words don’t really express it adequately. Thank you, dear people. Thank you, God. Soli Deo Gloria.



Willgesuorgan1Our 19-year-old son, Will,  is preparing some large pieces for a concert in June. The recorded clip is the tail end of his concert “ender.” He explained what he was playing.

“It’s the last movement of a symphony improvisation by Marcel Dupre on Christ’s passion….Movement no. 4 Resurrection. The melody is a chant. Here is the text,” he wrote.

Prostrate I adore Thee, Deity unseen, Who Thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean;

Lo, to Thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed, Tranced as it beholds Thee, shrined within the cloud.

Taste, and touch, and vision, to discern Thee fail;

Faith, that comes by hearing, pierces through the veil. I believe whate’er the Son of God hath told; What the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold.

On the Cross lay hidden but thy Deity, Here is hidden also Thy Humanity: But in both believing and confessing, Lord, Ask I what the dying thief of Thee implored.

Thy dread wounds, like Thomas, though I cannot see, His be my confession, Lord and God, of Thee, Make my faith unfeigned ever-more increase, Give me hope unfading, love that cannot cease.

O memorial wondrous of the Lord’s own death; Living Bread, that giveth all Thy creatures breath, Grant my spirit ever by Thy life may live, To my taste Thy sweetness never-failing give.

Pelican of mercy, Jesus, Lord and God, Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood: Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured Might from all transgression have the world restored.

Jesus, whom now veiled, I by faith descry, What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny, That thy face unveiled, I at last may see, With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee.

The finale of this movement conveys the power of the Resurrected Christ. Not a weak, simpering, impotent false Jesus, but the risen LORD Jesus Christ, who vanquished death, ascended to heaven and sits at God’s right hand in all power and authority.

Music carries a message of some kind, with or without words. The power of the pipe organ carries the message that the chant confesses. To this message, I say Amen and Amen!

(Will is recording the whole piece tomorrow. But I thought I would share this little clip.)

Next Thursday We Will Sing

Our Thanksgiving plans are set, and Lord willing, we will have a houseful as we gather in gratitude for all the things the Lord has done. We are not only grateful, we are grateful to the Giver of all of it.

These are dark and dangerous times. Not only is the world as a whole in great turmoil, but so many that we know are going through deep trials of various kinds. Those of us in our family have also faced great difficulty in various ways in the last year. That changes nothing as we gather to say thank you to the One who sustains us all.

I told my sister that when she and her husband, Russ and their four children come, they should bring their musical instruments. Russ and Lisa’s children sing as well as play instruments, and I am printing off song sheets for us all. Even the grandsons, Peter and Max, can play the rhythm instruments and make music.

The first song we will sing is a song written several centuries ago in the middle of a horrific time in history. The simple hymn, Now Thank We All Our God, was not written in an American suburb in a centrally heated home with food in the cupboards and a fully plumbed bath and warm beds. It was written in a time of war, with death and want all around.

Here’s a little glimpse of the environment in which a humble pastor, Martin Rinckart lived:

The plague of 1637 visited Eilenburg with extraordinary severity; the town was overcrowded with fugitives from the country districts where the Swedes had been spreading devastation, and in this one year 8,000 persons died in it. The whole of the town council except three persons, a terrible number of school children, and the clergymen of the neighbouring parish, were all carried off; and Rinckart had to do the work of three men, and did it manfully at the beds of the sick and dying. He buried more than 4,000 persons, but through all his labours he himself remained perfectly well. The pestilence was followed by a famine so extreme that thirty or forty persons might be seen fighting in the streets for a dead cat or crow. Rinckart, with the burgomaster and one other citizen, did what could be done to organize assistance, and gave away everything but the barest rations for his own family, so that his door was surrounded by a crowd of poor starving wretches, who found it their only refuge.

That was the state of things. Here’s more:

After all this suffering came the Swedes once more, and imposed upon the unhappy town a tribute of 30,000 dollars. Rinckart ventured to the camp to entreat the general for mercy, and when it was refused, turned to the citizens who followed him, saying, “Come, my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men, let us take refuge with God.” He fell on his knees, and prayed with such touching earnestness that the Swedish general relented, and lowered his demand at last to 2,000 florins. (Source: Martin Rinckart)

In this environment of suffering and want, the pastor wrote a brief hymn of thanks to His heavenly Father. Here are the words.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Our daughter Emily, age 6, has learned this hymn at school. She will lead us off by singing the first stanza on Thanksgiving Day, and we will all join in the rest, with Tom on trumpet, Will at the piano, and Rachel on Viola and the grandbabes on the rhythm instruments.

In light of the manifold blessings we enjoy every single day, how can we do any less but thank God? If Rev. Rinckart could pen this hymn in the midst of such suffering, what is our excuse for not recognizing God’s blessings?

I hope all of you have a joyful Thanksgiving time, wherever you may be, in whatever you are facing. God has not forgotten you.


Be Watchful

Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night, and blessed is
the servant He shall find vigilant; but unworthy is he whom he shall
find neglectful. Beware therefore, O my soul, lest you be weighed down
by sleep, lest you be given over to death and be closed out from the
kingdom; but rise up crying out: “Holy! Holy! Holy are You our God…

Sit For a While and Talk

Tarry a while. There is crumb cake and all the coffee or tea you would like. Tell me what is on your heart today. I’m listening, friend. (That’s what this room says to me.) Here is my mother’s old crumb cake recipe. Just in case you’d like to try it.

2 cups flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp. of ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter or margerine
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup sour milk (add two tablespoons of vinegar to make it clabber)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup of raisins (can use chocolate chips or nuts also)

Sift together sugar, spices and flour. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Set aside one cup of the mix. Mix sour milk, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl. (It will foam up so make sure you do this in a bowl.) Add in the beaten egg. Then stir in dry ingredients just until moistened. Add raisins, nuts or chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Take half of the crumbly mix set aside earlier and put in the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Spoon in batter gently on top of crumbly mix. Top the batter with the 1/2 cup of mix left over. Bake in oven at 350 for 40 minutes or until toothpick/knife comes out clean.