Cheerful Guy

cheerful2Once in a while I treat Emily to the breakfast sandwiches she loves at a local McDonald’s. (I am making quite a confession here!) On  a school morning, if we leave by 7am, we have plenty of time to sit in the parking lot while she munches away and we talk.

There’s a middle-aged man  who works in the drive-through who is there every time on that shift. We sometimes get him on the speaker when we order and, he’s there  either in the money window or the pick-up window. Emily always notices. “Mom, he’s always so cheerful.” He is. He  comes across always as professional, courteous and warm sounding. That is a rare thing in the service industry. So he stood out, even to my young daughter.

Today was one of our drive-through mornings and there he was.  As I took the bag, I told him my daughter calls him “the cheerful guy.” His face broke out in a huge smile. “Well, thank you, that means a lot!” he said.

People like him stand out, because there’s anger everywhere right now, and it’s catching. I feel it catching hold of me thanks to the constant drum beat of terrible things that frankly, we can do little about.  Yes, we are in bad times as a country, but that’s why when you find a cheerful person in your small part of the world, or somebody who smiles when they don’t have to,  who treats you kindly, they shine like a bright light.

It isn’t easy to be cheerful. I think of the man in the drive-through and having to deal with the public all the time. People can be really ugly. Really ugly. But he somehow manages to come across as cheerful anyway.

Here’s to all the cheerful guys and gals who do their best at their jobs, whatever they may be, and treat others well. Whatever your employment, caring about excellence and caring about people is an awesome and rare trait to have. You are a blessing, and you are noticed!

(As a P.S.,  letting people know that you appreciate their cheerfulness may brighten their day. You just never know!)

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Hello, Again

My husband is a professional trumpet player and for 21 years, he has called from intermissions at orchestra concerts, ballets and shows he’s playing at night to help support our family. I look at the clock and know right when the phone will go off and I’ll hear his voice.   “Hi, Ing…”

Joseph Pearce on Solzhenitsyn: The Courage to Be a Christian

Related to the post below about the apocalyptic election scene, I offer this article:  Alexander Solzhenitsyn:  The Courage to Be a Christian, by Joseph Pearce. An excerpt:

As we await the fall of the Obamanation, we need to remember that the culture of death is a parasite. It does not give life; it only destroys or corrupts it. Like all successful parasites, it kills itself when it kills the host culture on which it feeds. It is not merely deadly but suicidal. It is unsustainable. It cannot survive. Let’s not forget that Hitler’s promise of a Thousand Year Reich lasted only twelve years. In a similar vein, the communist revolution which according to Marx would usher in the end of history, is itself a ruined remnant of history. Little could Solzhenitsyn have known when he languished as one of the many millions in the Soviet prison system that he would outlive the Soviet system and, furthermore, that his own courage would play an important part in that very system’s collapse.

There are so many voices warning of the direction our country is headed. But nobody reads anymore, history instruction is a joke, as is much of “higher education.  This is why history always repeats itself. Wise people listen to those who have gone on before, and they learn from it.




Gone So Quickly

Emily-6064A recent article on a UK site shared anonymous thoughts of mothers who reportedly had regrets about parenthood. Reading through the comments, the mentality of the mothers involved provided insight into the self-centered and narcissistic culture we have now. One new mom wrote that she now “hated” her life. The demands of an infant, night and day, ruled her life. No longer could she take off for yoga and pilates, spray tans, coffee dates with friends , or hair highlighting without cumbersome logistical issues of child care, and she resented it like crazy.

The remarks of these mothers made me fear for the babies and toddlers involved. No child is safe, physically or emotionally, in an environment where a mother is so absorbed with herself that she actively resents the existence of her own child.

The needs of children are intense and immediate. There is no doubt about that. I was first introduced to that at the age of 20. As I have said before, it was the making of me. Holding my little son, Charlie, I knew life wasn’t about me anymore. When you love  your child, your happiness, your well being is tied up inextricably with theirs. You are held captive by that love. And that’s how it is supposed to be. That’s how babies can know the  nurture and protection that they need.

Younger generations are not made of the sterner stuff previous generations of mothers had. I mean that sincerely. I frequently see memes and comments on social media about how kids drive moms to drink, how wine play dates are essential for moms, how kids are always out of control and how that’s the norm and how all parents can do is hunker down and try to endure.

While it’s true that parenthood isn’t orderly and predictable and motherhood is filled with challenges that can seem overwhelming, I reflect on how difficult, by comparison, our mothers and grandmothers had it.  It is helpful to have that perspective. My mother had no disposable diapers, no wipes, no electric dryer, a ringer washer someone left behind in the flat they rented (she had to go down two flights of steep stairs to a dank basement to use the washer and peg out the diapers and clothes in winter), and had no air conditioned minivan or home, no dishwasher or microwave, no counter tops in her kitchen, no wealth of toys and clothes. She made do, many, many times. That’s what moms did back then when they had to.

Then there was her mother who had 8 children, beginning in the Great Depression years that lingered in the Ozarks where she grew up, long after the rest of the country was in recovery economically. Grandma washed diapers on a wash board. She washed all the clothes on a washboard after getting water outside from a pump. They had no running water or indoor plumbing. She had no cribs for her babies, one slept in a dresser drawer.  I could go on and on with the difficulty of mothering in that era in America. As for white privilege, that nonsense term that is so popular now, that is an insulting joke. There was no such thing for my relatives.

So when I hear sleek, young mothers with smartphones and selfies on Instagram and all the conveniences known today complaining about how they are up every two hours (for a few brief weeks) and how they need alcohol to cope, I feel sorry for them. They have no idea.

I feel sorry for these mothers because they don’t know how quickly it all goes.  It’s a blink of an eye and it’s over, all those moments where you can savor the sweet smell of your baby or toddler’s head, all the times you hold those dear little bodies close to you when they need comfort, all the times you are needed and wanted by your child.

Our youngest who was born when I was 42 and my husband, 51, is a young lady now in second grade.  I get choked up when I remember our many walks when she was little. I even wrote about them here on the blog, and realize how she has grown up since then. In my mind’s eye, I can see her dancing down the sidewalk in front of me, singing the little songs she always made up, asking about the flowers and birds and houses we passed. I can see the highlights the sun showed in her hair on a beautiful summer morning. I can see her running, always trying to catch a robin, but never quite succeeding.

We talked about so many things on those walks, God, nature, life. And now, she is a big girl of 7 with long legs, growing ever taller. I just saw a photo of Emmy last year at this time, and I could not believe the change in her. That is as it should be, but the question always lingers, did I savor those days enough, or did I get lost in the work of it all and miss what was passing by? Am I savoring her now, at this stage? Or am I letting fatigue let me wish this phase away?

I came across this beautiful post from another blogger at Finding Joy.  I want to share it with you. If you were once a young mother or are now a young mother, it affirms the value of what we do as moms, day in and day out. It’s not in the Pinterest-y moments of crafting and fancy homemaking that our worth is established, but in nights when a small,  hot hand touches our faces and our child is sick with fever and in need of us. it’s in the walks, the talks, the meals we make and the daily care we provide. We weave the fabric of our children’s emotional and physical health by being there and caring. It’s a tapestry that only we can weave.

God bless you mothers who understand this and don’t listen to the siren song of popular culture that perpetually devalues mothers’ sacrifices and instead celebrates moms who outsource that role to achieve “greater” things.  Reject the lie of popular culture and embrace your child while you can. They are gone before you know it.



God is Near in Song

sing2Music has always been a big part of my life. Thanks to inexpensive LP records at Treasure Island (a discount store in our area back in the 70’s), we had more than just gospel music at home. Mom bought everything from John Phillip Sousa, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (I wore that one out), Johnny Mann’s choral music, E. Power Biggs organ albums, and many others. I played these on the stereo at home a lot. We took piano lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory as children, and my sister and I sang with a Christian singing group that traveled around the country each Easter break for years.  In addition, our Lutheran day school taught music reading as part of our curriculum along with sacred music in choir.   We learned American folk songs and lots of wonderful hymns that we sang in chapel and in class devotions.

Also, I heard gospel music long before it was so commercialized with slick pop stars, back when it really was about the great old songs, not so much the performers. As kids, my siblings and I fell asleep late at night  many times on our coats at the Christian radio station where our parents worked in Milwaukee’s central city, the Haven of Rest radio program  on the speakers in the ceiling. This recording here of their theme song with the bells takes me straight back to those times years ago.

As a young adult, I became familiar with a broader range of hymnody on CD, Psalm singing of various kinds (metrical Psalms from Scotland, Anglican chant, etc.), and the grand festival hymns of the English choral tradition. I interviewed John Rutter once about his wonderful compositions and I have the CD’s of his hymns that are unequaled, as far as I am concerned, in excellence.  I also bought St. Olaf’s choir CD’s, the choir of Gustavas Adolphus (I love their Scandinavian hymn CD), and so forth.

For a time, I drifted away from the gospel songs I grew up with, but as I have grown older, I find myself coming back again to the songs I used to hear in congregational singing and from recording artists like George Beverly Shea. In the last few years, these sweet old songs have been a tremendous comfort to me.

Scripture talks about Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs—three separate categories, That’s because each category serves a purpose of its own. It’s not that you can’t sing a hymn of worship on your bed on a sleepless or pain-filled night, but often that is when the gospel songs mean the most.  They speak of God’s immanence, his closeness to us through Christ–our Savior who knows what it is to suffer and to walk on this earth as a human.  Hymns of worship emphasize God’s transcendence, his sovereignty and greatness, his holiness, something we also acknowledge. But when hurting, the closeness of God is what we tend to need most.

I once stood next to my grandma, Mary, in a church service where they were singing the Fanny Crosby song, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.” I heard her sweet quavering voice next to me. Do you know, I never forgot it, and every time I hear that song, I remember her and her faith. The words of that song, penned by the blind Crosby,  reflect Luther’s deathbed words, “We are beggars all.”  No matter how strong we think we are, in the end, we are dependent completely on the Savior passing by our place of need. (See the story of Bartemaeus)

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.

Thou the spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee,
Whom in Heav’n but Thee.

~ Fanny J. Crosby

I recently discovered a YouTube channel of congregational singing including many of these old gospel songs. I am a big fan!  When I can’t get to church, I watch these videos and sing aloud. I know many of these hymns by heart and don’t have to reference the words. Here is one such song that I love, and another beneath it. The channel is called “Faith for the Family” from Temple Baptist Church in Powell, Tennessee. If you’re blessed by these dear old songs, check it out and sing along. One of the things I notice are the young faces in the congregation, and many of them are really singing these. How wonderful that another generation will know these treasures.

Here are the words of this song, “He Hideth my Soul.” Another of Fanny Crosby’s compositions, the text is based on Exodus 33:22

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.


He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.


With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!


When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that despite the world’s foundations being rocked by turmoil and fear these days, our souls, as Christians, are hid with God, in Christ. He hides our souls and covers them with his hand.

This one is the earliest song I remember singing in church, back at First Christian and Missionary Alliance on 60th street in Milwaukee. It’s hard not to join in joyfully with that refrain. “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things he has done!”

The Apostle Paul and Silas, imprisoned at Phillipi for sharing the Gospel, are recorded in Scripture as singing in their chains (just before the earthquake that set them free.  See Acts, Chapter 16) We cannot change circumstances in our lives so often, but we can sing anyway. Our song comes from the knowledge that our God “plants his footsteps in the seas, and rides upon the storm.” He is with us, come what may in this life. And soon, we will see Him in a place where no tear will ever dim our eyesight. What a day that will be.

I hope these are as much of a blessing to you as they are to me!



No Kids Allowed?

A recent question posed on a parenting website sought public opinion. The question had to do with whether or not readers supported adult-oriented restaurants banning young children. The answers were interesting to read. They ran the gamut from, “Absolutely not. Kids should be welcome anywhere”, and “Society in the West is way too anti-child,” to “Yes, they should. Adults should have a kid-free zone if they want.”

I gave my own answer which I will re-share here. To underscore one of my points, I really believe that much of the hostility towards children in public places like planes and restaurants is the direct consequence of too many children  who are not under control of their parents. If wise pet owners know the importance of obedience training (a dog not trained can be a major problem), how much more important is it to teach and train our children with eternal souls? Without child training our kids become a menace to others.  This is wholly unnecessary.

Young parents will read something like what I wrote (shared below) and sneer, “Oh, wow. Your  kids are so PERFECT! How could we ever measure up to your perfection?” I’ve seen hundreds of comments like this from moms insinuating that teaching obedience, respect for authority and respect for others is some peculiar and unattainable thing, and that any parent (no matter how  experienced) who claims they have trained their children this way is either lying or bragging.

It is sad to see the wrong-headed ideas about parenting absorbed several generations deep now where kids running rampant, screaming, throwing fits (I just saw a cartload of this at the grocery store the other day) is the norm. It is the norm now, but it should not be, in my  own opinion.

Both my husband and I grew up in homes where obeying parents and not being a public nuisance was the norm. My mother only had to look at us to achieve compliance in public places and church. We were not allowed to ask for things at other people’s homes and not allowed to whine for candy in the grocery aisle or anywhere else. No meant no. We loved our mom, which was the foundation for her child-rearing success. But we also knew she meant business. We were not terrorized by her nor repressed by her parenting. She was the final word. It was that simple.

My husband and I have taken the same approach with our children. We have the final word. Children are  in training for adulthood, and they were and are (Emily is our last one) not going to run wild and treat their neighbors (those in public) with contempt and disrespect. Concern for the well-being of others, we emphasize with her,  should be the basis for all courtesy. Life is about more than just you and your desires.

Here is my response on the parenting site. If you disagree, feel free to write so in the comments. I want to add this point. I realize that with the rise of autism, some parents are dealing with special needs which my post, for obvious reasons, does not include. Special needs are special needs. Most children simply are not expected to obey today and behave properly in public, and that is the problem.

I am a mother of six children, ranging in age from 7 to 30, also a grandma to 3 toddlers. I absolutely believe that restaurants have the right to ban service to young children. The fact that there are wonderful exceptions to the rule when it comes to young child behavior is not the point. It’s that we have an epidemic of youngish parents today who have no concept of child training and discipline. The fact that young children are not welcome in certain places should be common sense.

Decades of permissive parenting advice, advice doled out by idiotic parenting magazines and “experts” who are anything but, and the simultaneous loss of generational influence in families have resulted in child-driven couples who are more interested in being buddies with their child than teaching them the needed skills for public behavior. In short, kids run the show with their tantrums and demands for total freedom in all places, and parents often act like hapless fools, watching their children offend and interfere with other adults. I truly believe the hostility frequently shown to children in public places is a direct result of parents not having children under control. Children, when in subjection to authority, are a delight. When they are not, they can be little horrors, disrupting and defrauding others of peace and order.

With children (two from orphanages) of many personality types raised in our home, I continue to believe that parents can and should teach respect for authority and respect for others – the two are inseparable – or we are failing. Restaurants field complaints and risk loss of business from loyal customers when they allow out of control children to destroy the atmosphere the customers value. Parents are free to go elsewhere to a family-friendly setting, but when when customers pay for a quiet evening out and then descend into a chaotic atmosphere with out of control kids, it cheats customers out of what they paid for.

So that’s my position. A voice of sanity is badly needed in the wacky world of modern parenting advice. This is just one issue I feel strongly about regarding child-rearing. In the future, I’ll write on the subject of schedules and the importance of order in a child’s development.  But that’s for another day.


Rainy Day

It is dark and the air heavy with impending rain this school morning. Even the bright kitchen lights don’t seem to cut the gloom. I help my daughter with her hair and get her breakfast. While she works on her oatmeal and toast, I make her sandwich and pack the rest of her lunch.

The clouds look like they could break open any moment as I drive slowly through the streets of our village, two minutes to Emmy’s school.  Drops spatter on my windshield on the drive home, more fall as I turn into our driveway. I make it into the garage before the deluge.

Inside again I set my keys up on the shelf and kick off my shoes. There is no sound inside the house but the gentle ticking of the cuckoo clock in the dining room. Everything is neat and tidy. Rain falls outside, but I can’t hear it. Emmy says you can hear the rain on the roof of our ranch when it  is coming down hard, but my hearing doesn’t extend to those sounds. Just the steady ticking of the clock. That I can hear.

I make my coffee and sit in the living room by the window, watching the leaden skies divest themselves of all the moisture they have stored.  Rain drips from our Magnolia steadily.

Tick, tick, tick.

It is so dark in the room, I feel the sudden need for lamp light. My eyes roam the shelves where my many books sit patiently, waiting for me. Old friends, all of them. The piano where Emmy practices her first songs sits in the corner. But the old, black Steinway is silent this morning, awaiting small fingers at the end of the school day.

Tick, tick, tick.

No voices call out to me, no demands, no requests. Far away, Will is at college. Downtown, Tom is at work. Down the street, Emmy is busy at school. And I am alone in my house in the quiet and peace. Sitting by the window. Watching the rain come down, the soft tick of my clock keeping time.









Elie Wiesel – Remembering Him in a Quote

Christians think there is virtue in silence when someone is being abused by a spiritual leader. When they know wrong is being done and they stay silent, they become complicit. A favorite quote of Wiesel’s. “Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented..”      Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

A Response to the Movie “Me Before You”

Our culture lives by emotions, not facts or an objective sense of truth. If a movie makes us “feel” and “moves us to tears”, well, then by all means, it must have a good message for us, right? Wrong.

A friend sent this article to me. The movie “Me before You” is yet another death propaganda piece that manages to make suicide look heroic and selfless for a disabled man. He did it for someone else, after all.  I am glad to see this article by a young person responding to the false message the movie promotes. The author begins:

I love romances as much as the next person (perhaps even a little more … I’m a total sap), but I’m decidedly unenthused about the most popular romance in theaters right now. As a disabled person, I really can’t stand “Me Before You.” In my opinion, and in the opinion of much of the disabled community, the film spreads some really harmful misconceptions about life with a disability. In an effort to undo some of the damage caused by this film, I’m here to bust some common myths about disability. (Spoiler warning for “Me Before You,” by the way!)

Read it here.

Remember when movies were filled with things like the triumph of the human spirit against difficult odds, when courage was an admired trait, when steadfastness and strength of character were celebrated? Yes. It seems like a long time ago now.