Our Son Will – Making A Joyful Noise on the Pipe Organ!

Our son, Will Schlueter, is playing an organ recital in Chicago at St. John Cantius church this Sunday at 3pm. Here is his program.

1) Piece Heroique- C. Franck
2) Trio Sonata 6- Moevement 1. Vivace -J.S. Bach
3) Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue- J.S. Bach
4) Variations on Old Hundreth- Denis Bedard
5) Romance from Symphony #4- Louis Vierne
6) Allegro from Symphony #6- C.M. Widor

About the organist: Will Schlueter is a sophomore at Wheaton College, where he studies organ performance with Dr. Edward Zimmerman. A Wisconsin native, Will has had a passion for the pipe organ since he was very young, and began lessons with Sr. Mary Jane Wagner (S.S.S.F) in 2011. Since then he has performed many times at the finest venues in the Milwaukee area, including St. Joseph’s Chapel, St. John’s Cathedral, and Gesu Church, home of the largest organ in Wisconsin. He particularly enjoys liturgical music, and has played for many  services over the last five years, in addition to participating in the 2013 AGO Competition for Young Organists. Will believes that music is a form of prayer, and strives to share the “joy of the Lord” (Psalm 98) through the wonderful gift of the pipe organ.

You can get more information here about the recital.


Voices From the Past

sltcI am a conservative, because I believe some things are worth conserving. Like hymns that speak of  faith in God, faith that carries us through this ever darker world.  These hymns, passed down, remind us of God’s eternal verities–the same though heaven and earth pass away — and they lift us out of ourselves to look up at Jesus.

Our Savior doesn’t evolve, he doesn’t change with the times. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Things are getting darker around us in this world, but that only means that the light of our Savior shines brighter.

I was looking for a recording of Beautiful Savior earlier, and heard many beautiful contemporary arrangements of it. Then I heard this one, and it caused me to stop. Out of the past, 1941, these voices from St. Olaf’s rose up and turned my heart to praise.  This is the signature piece the college has used for their well known Christmas programs that air on PBS. But this 1941 version has something in it that I love. For once, I can’t put it into words exactly.

The first verse is just humming the familiar old melody,  then the female soloist, then the choir.  These choral students who recorded this so long ago never dreamed someone would be listening in 2016, but their gifts bring a blessing all these years later, because they sing of the  beauty of our Savior whose light never dims.

Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

Beautiful Savior,
Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!

Amen, Amen.


A Dash of Color at my Table

My friend, Julie, came over yesterday. She brought some daffodils from her garden. I put them in the vase on my table with the white daisies and baby’s breath I bought a few days ago to make my table cheery. My friend and I had a wonderful conversation over coffee. I’ve known her for over 20 years. We had a lot to talk about!

I passed my dining room table this morning and thought how the yellow flowers Julie brought added color to my own flowers. It occurred to me that this is what friends do in our lives. They add color. We bring white to the table, they bring yellow or red or orange or pink.

We bring one idea to the table, they bring their ideas and challenge thinking or expand it.  That’s why having good friends and making time for them in our lives is so important. Left in isolation, we get narrow and stale. Our own thinking (which at times can be faulty) never gets challenged, and after a while, the cognitive dissonance becomes too great when hearing another’s viewpoint, and it is discarded automatically.  Pride takes over and blindness sets in.  It’s the price of isolating yourself, and the end isn’t pretty.

Nothing is so wonderful as to have a one on one conversation beyond the superficial. Crowded social settings and women’s groups are exhausting to me, and not just because hearing for me can be difficult. Having just one friend to sit and chat with is as good as it gets.  Another friend stopped by  last week that I hadn’t seen in three years. We sat and  talked for two and a half hours and realized we had forgotten to eat the lunch I had prepared!

Friends add the color we need in our lives. Out my kitchen window, I can see my own colorful flowers coming up. Friends, like flowers, need tending to. When we nurture our friendships, they grow even more beautiful.

“A friend loves at all times..”  ~ Proverbs 17:17


Raising Children in a Porn-Filled World

picWe have no idea what even young children are exposed to in this age of technology. The tidal wave of video pornography, made available thanks to things like mobile phones, has swept over our heads in this country, directly impacting our children. So great is the effect of  mass porn consumption that even secular mainstream media is covering the damage and dangers of it. (See recent Time Magazine cover story on it.) Also, see this article from Relevant Magazine, This is Your Brain on Porn. It’s a drug, and a dangerous one.

Chronic use of pornography, brains swimming in it from as young as 9 or 10, has created a health crisis where young men are finding their bodies can’t even function normally without the stimulation of porn, leading to use and abuse of medications once used only by middle-aged men. Porn changes not only brains but bodies. The damage to relationships with women, who are now expected to look and perform like porn stars, and the destruction of marriages are also tragic consequences of America’s obsession.

The Barna Group has just released a study on this. You can read about it here.

If you are concerned about what is coming into your home via the internet, please check out this video below from Covenant Eyes. This company produces software to filter out porn, and it’s available to homes and businesses.

This is not a time for passivity if we love our families. Awareness is the place to start. Wisdom sees a danger to our families and provides for it.  Nothing is more important.

Also, Focus on the Family has a series called When Children View Porn that may be of help to you. If you or someone you love is struggling with porn, back in my radio days I interviewed the Gallaghers, a couple with a ministry that helps those who want to be free from the bondage of pornography to get help.  I highly recommend Pure Life Ministries.

Warning about Hidden Nut Allergens

epiFor those who have or have family members with tree nut allergies, I came across this post today, and wanted to share it. It could save someone’s life. Our son has a nut allergy that is very serious, and I know how careful we have had to be about ingredients. The mother in this blog post warns of peppercorns and how  some can trigger a tree nut reaction in those afflicted. Parents or individuals think to check ingredients, but would never stop to ask about this. You can read the post here.

Book Treasures for Children


Emily reading a very old book from my friend, Donna. We treasure it.

Emily with a very old book from my friend, Donna. We treasure it.

My mother gave me my love for reading. We didn’t have a TV until we were much older, so she read aloud to us from her brown, upholstered rocking chair that had seen better days. As girls, Mom read to my sister, Lisa, and me from Anne of Green Gables, Mandy, The Secret Garden, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the entire Little House series, and many more. She also bought us books for Christmas every year, some of which I still have on my shelf.


Those are cherished memories with my sweet mother, and I will always be grateful she introduced me to wonderful children’s literature.

Our youngest is now reading some of the Little House books and visits my bookshelves of children’s literature I have saved through the years from our older children. She pulls them off the shelf and asks me what each book is about. I look forward to her getting to know all my old friends.

I came across this post from the Deep Roots at Home blog. The author gives 100+ book titles, age-appropriately listed, for your children or grandchildren. She writes:

We are all aware that there is a battle raging in our culture for the minds and hearts of our children, but how do we as parents prepare them to live in the world? How do we teach values and build character at home on a day to day basis to equip them for a lifetime?

One of the best ways is to choose and read books that will champion and uphold what is noble, good, right and true. Most of these will be found at your library, or you can request they get it in for you, but I’ve also included Amazon links so you can see what the book looks like and read reviews, etc.

The author has compiled  a fantastic book list, and it is right in line with the literature used at our youngest daughter’s school. (I can’t say enough about the classical approach to education. No reading textbooks, just real books! But that’s another post.)

In our post-literate age when being able to read well and understand can’t be taken for granted anymore, we must give our children not only the treasures of literature, but pass on the essential values the books convey.

Dad and Emmy reading before bed. Christmas 2014

Dad and Emmy reading before bed. Christmas 2014

Family Mealtimes: More Than One Kind of Food

Tom and I would never pretend we have done everything right as parents of our six children. One thing I do believe has helped our kids has been family dinner each night. Despite Tom sometimes being gone for music work evenings, we lived close enough to downtown that he was always able to come home after his daytime job and have dinner with us. It was the norm.


Our funny family 2009

Some of our best memories are from dinner together. With 5 lively kids at the time, it wasn’t a Ward and June Cleaver type dinner atmosphere either. We had lots of laughs and sometimes, serious conversations over meals. Emmy is the only one home now to sit at our table, but the tradition continues. Our children will always have memories of those times when, whatever else happened during the day, we were together, a whole family sitting down to eat and talk.

I saw an article today posted by Gary Bauer. Here’s a quote:

“One study of adolescents found that living in an economically secure home with both biological parents accounted for some, but not all, of the benefits that are typically chalked up to family meals. I’ve come to suspect that regular meals serve as an easily measured proxy for one of the longest-standing and sturdiest determinants of adolescent well-being: authoritative parenting…”

When we as parents are there, and the children are there, we are sending the strong message that we are not just individual units, sleeping under the safe roof like a motel. We are a family, linked together by love, and headed by parents with concern for the well-being of each member. It’s emotional security, and the need for that doesn’t end when children hit adolescence. In my own opinion, that’s when it is needed more than ever.  Family mealtimes provide more than food for the stomach. It is food for the heart, mind and soul when you gather in love.

Here’s the article from the New York Times blog.


Schlueter Family circa 2009

I’d Rather Be Small…

I would rather be broken and tender than to hurt other people.

I would rather be a small nobody, in a small house, in a small town with a small voice, than to be big and leave people shattered behind me, and worse,  do it in Jesus’ name.

I would rather have a few small tasks and do them well, than be rated a “high capacity” person (that popular term cracks me up) in some gleaming church building and make the fatal error of building a ministry on the bones of others.

I’d rather be humbled by God than have tens of millions to build big stuff and be a complete creep and a spiritual fraud.

To be really useful to the Lord, the same one who was homeless and who didn’t even have a pillow for his head, you have  to accept “small” and embrace it fully. There is real peace there.

I was driving home from dropping my little girl at school this morning, and I was grateful once again for the  simplicity in my life, for a short list of tasks to do today, and a few modest writing goals to accomplish. I’m at a season where this increasing quietude is welcomed. If I can bring a smile or encourage someone here at the Hope Blog or on Facebook, I’ve had a good day. If my husband and child are cared for, I’ve done my job for Jesus.

There are moments when I forget and kick myself for not accomplishing this or that. Then I think, but that isn’t what God has for me. He had something so very much better, because my Creator understands me better than I do. What a wonderful thing.

All I can hear as I type is the click of my keys and when I stop, I can hear the tick of our cuckoo clock in the dining room. It’s peaceful here. I wish the same for all of you who are in pain or grief today. I wish the peace of God for you. The God who uses broken people just like me and like you. But you have to give the pieces to him.

“…And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” ~  Colossians 3:15


“Where Have All the Beautiful Women Gone?”

singlesThis piece caught my eye in the blizzard of content that comes through social media. There’s so much competing for attention now that I almost didn’t click on it. I’m so glad I did. If you have a single son (and actually, even a married son, because this is so good), this article is worth every moment of reading it.

It’s written by attorney and writer, Joshua Rogers. It begins like this.

Whenever I write about the struggles of single adults, there’s one sure-fire way to enrage the men: Hint that they carry any blame for the growing number of unmarried women.

I can’t tell you how many single men have earnestly looked at me in frustration and explained that they simply haven’t felt the “spark” with anyone. But none of these guys can seem to articulate what the “spark” is. They just know it isn’t there, and they can’t imagine moving forward without it.

As I listen to these men and reflect on my own days as a single man, I think I know what they really want. They want a woman with inner beauty, sure; but they also want that beauty to be matched by her outward appearance…

Read the whole article here. 

Like Joshua Rogers said, “Desiring beauty isn’t the problem. It’s the inability to see it.”

A P.S. to this article: My adult son sent me this article a few minutes ago. He has a little girl, we have a little girl, and the reality of our porn-saturated culture is harming our girls. It’s no wonder boys and men can’t sit and value the beauty of a young woman by getting to observe and know her. This article here explains  the nightmarish culture our girls have to contend with in the form of porn-addicted  boys. 

Troopers Rescue a Birthday

Nothing hurts worse as a parent than to see your child hurt, whatever age they are.

watchingI wrote a post several years ago about how one of our sons invited some friends from school for a Christmas party. He’d never had a party of any kind, so we laid out some plans for what to eat, and I got the house ready, finished up our holiday decorating and ordered food from the BBQ place. The day before the party,  he came home looking dejected and announced that all the kids but one had canceled, so the party was off. He had gotten up the courage to do  it, kids had committed and then dropped out, one by one.

He emailed the one friend still planning to come to tell him it was off, but his friend said, bless his heart, “Hang on, wait, don’t cancel!” He got several others to come with him, and the party was saved. The kids had a great time, and our son will always have that memory of the get together. I was so grateful that all was not spoiled, thanks to the kindness of one boy.

A little guy, aged 10, in Arkansas had a birthday party planned by his mother, and 21 kids were invited. The excitement over things like this is off the charts for children that age. But the few who said they would come never showed that day. Just thinking of the child watching  and hoping, only to be disappointed, brings me to tears.

Then some state troopers heard about it, showed up a few days later and gave this little boy a birthday to remember! Here’s the story.

Thank you, kind troopers, for taking time out from your work to do this for a child. This is America at its best, and humanity at its finest. How we need more people like this to show kindness. It can have an impact that lasts a lifetime.